Bench starting to make impact as 76ers host Nets
The Brooklyn Nets are a confident bunch coming into their matchup against the 76ers in Philadelphia on Wednesday night after two straight wins, including a surprising 106-105 victory over the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Raptors.
The Sixers’ bench is coming up big recently, including in a 116-102 victory over the visiting Detroit Pistons on Monday night in the opener of a three-game homestand this week.
In the team’s 10th win in 12 games and league-high 14th win at home (with one home loss), the bench scored 54 points, with four players in double-figures: Furkan Korkmaz (18 points), T.J. McConnell (14), Landry Shamet (10) and Mike Muscala (10).
“It was huge,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said after the game. “Look at the points the bench gave us. I think they had 11 3s. Furkan came in and he was our bell ringer tonight. I thought Landry Shamet came up with some aggressive plays, especially at the end when it was sort of hanging around. He had the big offensive rebound off Ben’s missed free throw. But our bench was big tonight.”
Korkmaz has been key for the Sixers in recent weeks, scoring in double figures in each of the last three games in which he’s played 20 or more minutes.
“He’s not intimidated by NBA basketball,” Brown said. “He’s not intimidated by the moment. I don’t know how much you paid attention to Turkey in the qualification series, but, I have said this a lot, he was one of the better guards in that tournament. He’s got a bounce, he has an inner belief, there is a swagger that he has when he is going to make a play.”
Brooklyn’s bench has been stepping up lately as well. Or, at least, one of them has.
Spencer Dinwiddie had a team-high 25 points off the bench in the Nets’ 112-104 victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday, his fifth game of the season with 20 or more points. On Monday, Dinwiddie told the New York Post that the win might be enough to spark a turnaround for the 10-18 Nets.
“We certainly hope so, that’s for sure,” Dinwiddie said. “If we can put something together and go on a five-game win streak or something like that, then yeah, we’d look back to that and point to that as a turning point in the season. Right now that’s obviously too early, but we are looking to start some consistency.”
Philadelphia has found the consistency it lacked earlier in the season, with the team rounding into form since the blockbuster Butler trade, especially on the defensive end.
“We are getting adjusted to the new defensive schemes,” Embiid said after leading the Sixers with 24 points against Detroit. “Sometimes you can’t be tough, especially when you want to guard a three. So in situations where Ben does a pick-and-roll, especially for me, I always try to find some good trends and figure it out, but I’m still learning.”