Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Sixers vs. Nets takeaways: Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey are NBA’s top scoring duo; Philly is a deep team

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Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey are the NBA’s best duo. De’Anthony Melton’s shooting slump is long gone. And the 76ers are arguably the league’s deepest team.

Those three things stood out in Sunday’s 121-99 victory over the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center.

Here are the takeaways:

The NBA’s best duo

On paper, there are more heralded duos than Embiid and Maxey. The Dallas Mavericks have an All-Star backcourt in Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving. The Milwaukee Bucks have two of the NBA’s Top 75 players of all-time in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard. And the Sacramento Kings have All-Stars De’Aaron and Domantas Sabonis.

But there’s been no scoring tandem better than the Sixers’ duo through 13 games.

Embiid and Maxey combined for 57 points and 19 assists against Brooklyn. Embiid had game highs of 32 points and 12 rebounds along with nine assists and one block in just over 31 minutes. With the game in hand, the reigning MVP sat out the fourth quarter. This was the center’s seventh game with 30 or more points and ninth double-double.

Maxey had 25 points, a game-high 10 assists — his fourth such game this season — and just one turnover. He made 6-of-11 three-pointers, his third game with at least six three-pointers already this year.

Embiid leads the league in scoring at 31.9 points per game. He’s also seventh in rebounds (11.2). Maxey, meanwhile, is 10th in scoring (26.8) and 11th in assists (7.1).

Together, they’re the league’s top scoring duo at 58.7 points per game. Dončić and Irving are second (55.0) while Antetokounmpo and Lillard are third at 54.1.

» READ MORE: The Sixers’ chemistry is at its best: ‘Guys want to play with each other’

What shooting slump?

Melton was en fuego against the Nets (6-7).

The shooting guard finished with 21 points while making 4-of-6 three-pointers to go along with three steals. Melton has made 16-of-23 threes over the last four games.

That’s remarkable, considering he was shooting just 29.5% from the field — including 32.4% on three-pointers — through the first seven games.

His improved shooting is a good thing for the Sixers (10-3). If he continues to make shots, they’ll be tough to beat when the team is fully healthy and intact.

» READ MORE: The Sixers became a better team without James Harden. And they did it together.’

Deep bench

With Nic Batum back, the Sixers had an 11-man rotation before emptying the bench late in the game.

Robert Covington, Patrick Beverley, Danuel House Jr., Jaden Springer, Paul Reed, and Marcus Morris Sr. were the six reserves who saw action while the game was still competitive. And they made their imprint on the game.

Morris had his best game as a Sixer after being acquired with Batum, Covington, and KJ Martin in a trade from the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 1. The North Philly native only attempted one shot in 6 minutes, 11 seconds. But it marked his first made three-pointer after going 0-for-4 in his previous attempts.

Springer had season highs in points (10) and rebounds (5).

Batum had missed the last three games — and five total — because of a health issue with his wife.

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