Ben Simmons Returns as Sixers Crush Lowly Thunder
On Monday night, the Sixers were as healthy as they’ve been in quite some time.
And it showed.
They took care of business against the shorthanded Thunder, snapping their four-game losing streak in a 121-90 drubbing at the Wells Fargo Center. The win improves the Sixers to 40-21, one game behind the Nets for the one seed and three games ahead of the Bucks.
Ben Simmons returned to the lineup after missing the last four games with an illness. Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris and Furkan Korkmaz also all played after being listed as questionable. Danny Green (left hip recovery) and Mike Scott (left hip soreness) did not play. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort were among the players out for Oklahoma City.
While the Sixers got off to a sluggish start defensively, Simmons showed no ill effects of his long absence. The All-Star was seemingly everywhere, getting deflections and getting the Sixers out on the break.
Embiid, who missed Saturday’s loss in Milwaukee with a shoulder injury, looked refreshed as well. While the starting lineups played mostly even, it was actually the Sixers’ bench that upped the defensive intensity and built a lead. George Hill and Matisse Thybulle led that charge.
It was the number of turnovers and strong three-point shooting that allowed the Sixers to take a 60-45 lead into the half. They racked up nine steals and shot 7 of 13 from beyond the arc.
Embiid led the way with 15 points. Simmons added six points to go along with four assists and three steals.
It was more of the same in the second half as the Sixers pushed their lead to as much as 28 in the third quarter. The starters were able to leave the court midway through the period and take the rest of the night off.
Embiid, who awkwardly fell on his injured shoulder, appeared to be flexing his right arm in discomfort. Still, the MVP candidate managed to post 21 points in just under 23 minutes. Simmons was excellent in his return with 12 points, four assists, three steals, and two blocks in 22 minutes. Harris filled the stat sheet with 11 points, four rebounds, four assists, four steals, and was a game-high plus-22.
The Sixers continue their three-game homestand as they host the Hawks for a two-game series starting Wednesday. Star guard Trae Young missed his third-straight game Monday with a left ankle sprain and will likely miss both games.