Well that sucked. In a game that would have been a huge one to win, the Wolves were completely outclassed in Philadelphia, losing the Sixers 120-108 in a game that wasn’t nearly that close.
Yes, it was the second night of a back to back. Yes, they had travel problems and got in very late. But at this point, those aren’t good enough excuses for the debacle that was tonight’s performance. In truth, the Sixers just looked like a much better team throughout, and wound up blowing out the Wolves early in the second half, and cruising from there.
The Sixers were in control all game long, opening up a lead in the first quarter behind some hot three point shooting from Dario Saric and others, and terrific interior defense that kept the Wolves from getting good looks at the rim. Although the Wolves managed to hang around, and were only down seven at halftime after a Jamal Crawford buzzer beater that followed a bad Sixers turnover, it didn’t look good. There appeared to be no easy way for the Wolves to score, and that played out in the third quarter.
The Sixers came out of the locker room and put the hammer down on the Wolves, immediately stretching the lead to double digits, and not letting up until they were up more than 25, effectively ending the game. The Wolves reserves made it cosmetically close in the fourth quarter, and actually forced Brett Brown to reinsert some of his starters for the last couple of minutes, but this one was never in doubt.
I’m not going to go on at length about this game, which was a huge disappointment. Nobody played well (except some bench guys led by Tyus Jones and Gorgui Dieng in the fourth quarter,) and the Sixers were just the better team by a wide margin. What was especially disappointing was the play of Karl-Anthony Towns, who was, for the second time this season, absolutely dominated by Joel Embiid. KAT, who hit a couple of early threes, could not get anything inside against the physically imposing Embiid, who held him at bay in the post with seeming ease. KAT got into early foul trouble as well, and was an utter non-factor, shooting 3-15 from the field and contributing five turnovers.
It was one of the worst offensive performances by the Wolves all season, as they shot only 38 percent from the floor, and a lot of credit has to go to the 4th rated Sixers defense. Their length and quickness was too much for the Wolves to handle, and the things they are usually able to get—Wiggins basket attacks, Jeff Teague floaters, simply were not there against this team.
The Sixers have really turned it up in the second half of the season. They were 25-25 at one point, and have gone 17-5 since to make themselves a real threat in the Eastern Conference. They were certainly impressive tonight.
The Wolves cannot let this carry over, and must now take advantage of the next three games against tanking teams. A win tonight would have given them real momentum and a chance to move up the standings, but it wasn’t to be.