Grades from Sixers’ win over Heat
The Sixers took care of business Thursday, beating the shorthanded Heat 125-108 at the Wells Fargo Center.
While Miami was still only able to dress eight players in large part because of health and safety protocols, the Sixers welcomed back the trio of Tobias Harris, Shake Milton, and Matisse Thybulle.
Here are grades from the victory.
Shake Milton, Tyrese Maxey: A+
The Sixers have been in desperate need of a good young guard prospect ever since they missed on Markelle Fultz. Now, it appears they have two.
Maxey, who earned the start alongside the Sixers’ other four regular starters, continues to impress. The rookie got a couple easy buckets on transition dunks off steals, showing off his speed. He then continued to show off his ability to use ball screens and shoot in the midrange. He also hit another three off good ball movement in the half-court. Maxey, the subject of recent trade rumors, was 6 of 8 for 13 points in the first half.
Milton returned to the lineup after missing the last three because of the NBA’s health and safety protocols. In the last game we saw Milton, he dropped a season-high 24 in the Sixers’ loss to the Nets. He picked up right where he left off, scoring 19 first-half points on 6 of 7 from the field and 3 of 3 from three. He also went 4 of 4 from the line. Added muscle appears to have helped Milton feel more confident attacking the rim and drawing fouls.
Maxey, who has been playing a ton of minutes recently, didn’t play much in the second half. He finished with 13 points on 6 of 10 shooting. Rivers allowed Milton to get his feet back and he did so in a big way. Milton put up a season-high and game-high 31 points and seven assists.
Tobias Harris B+
I was curious to see what Harris would like after missing the last three games, especially considering how well he’d been playing before that. He put any fears of rust to rest early on. We saw Harris continue to play an aggressive and decisive brand of basketball. He was 7 of 13 for 18 points in 30 minutes.
Sixers defense: B-
Against a team missing so many players, you would’ve liked to see a little bit better defensive effort from the jump. The Sixers’ transition and pick-and-roll defense continued to be issues in the first half. The good news was that the Sixers limited Miami’s three-point shooting, which is no small feat with guys like Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson still in the lineup.
Simmons, who fouled out the other night against the Heat, looked much better defensively. He had three steals and looked much more comfortable defending Herro, who is the best shot creator in this current Miami lineup. Matisse Thybulle, who was also returning after a three-game absence, looked more like his disruptive self defensively, notching four steals and one incredible block on Precious Achiuwa.
Isaiah Joe: A
Obviously, Joe gets graded on a slight curve as a rookie. With that said, you have to be impressed with the way he’s carried himself. If not for Seth Curry’s positive COVID test and the Sixers missing so many players because of health and safety protocols, Joe might not have gotten his recent opportunities. To his credit, he hasn’t blinked.
Over his last four games, he’s 15 of 36 (41.6 percent) from three after his 4-of-8 effort Thursday. After Rivers praised his defense pregame, Joe also made a tremendous play on that end with an on-ball block of Herro. Joe might be out of the rotation when the team is at full strength, but for a second-round pick to step up like he has is notable.
Joel Embiid/Ben Simmons: B-
The Sixers’ All-Star duo wasn’t great in this one, but they also didn’t need to be.
After his virtuoso performance Tuesday night, Embiid (nine points) seemed content to let his teammates take the game over. It was quite the contrast from the other night against the Heat where Embiid seemingly dragged his team to the finish line in an overtime win. He played just 24 minutes which is good considering the upcoming schedule.
After a dreadful game Tuesday, Simmons was solid Thursday. As mentioned, Simmons was much better on the defensive end and recorded a triple-double (10 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds). The five turnovers were still a little troubling, but it was a decent bounce-back performance.