Sixers 97, Spurs 78: Ben Simmons nearly perfect in defensive clinic, and other quick observations

Spurs can’t stop Ben Simmons

Sometimes it looked like they didn’t even want to try. Simmons finished the night with 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting. Simmons only made it to the free-throw line once (going 1-of-2) but it wasn’t for lack of attacking the basket. Simmons has gradually become more aggressive as the season has played out and that’s great news for the Sixers. In addition to his game-high points he added seven assists, five rebounds, two steals, and one block to his stat line for the night while playing excellent defense, and the Spurs did not have an answer.

Sixers keep going while Spurs miss

The Spurs missed open looks and they started the night 0-of-14 from three-point range until making one in the final minutes of the third quarter. Every team is going to have off nights, it’s just not usually expected of the Spurs on their home court where before Friday they had only lost three games. But even though San Antonio was clearly having trouble connecting, the Sixers never let up on either side of the ball. Another sign of growing maturity for the Sixers.

Sixers shine on defense

The Spurs were missing shots but the Sixers made things even harder on the San Antonio squad by playing excellent defense. They were quick and effective on switches, made entry passes difficult, and clogged lanes that the Spurs often go to. The Sixers finished the night with five steals, four blocks, and held the Spurs to 40 percent shooting from the field and just 3-of-24 (12.5 percent) from beyond the arc. The Spurs were also held to a season-low 78 points by the Sixers stifling defense.

Battle of the boards

Well, it wasn’t so much a battle if you look at the numbers, but there were plenty of hard-nosed rebounds and battles for position that gave the Sixers the advantage on the glass. The Sixers grabbed 50 rebounds to the Spurs’ 36. Not only is that good for limiting second chance points and obviously securing possession, but the Sixers, who love to play fast, have more of an opportunity for fast break points when they are winning on the boards.

Turnover turn around

The Sixers committed just 10 turnovers against San Antonio and the Spurs were only able to get 11 points off those miscues. The fear of the Sixers committing turnovers at a high rate is not gone yet, but taking care of the ball against one of the league’s elite teams gives another glimpse into what this team can be when they clean up the problems and continue to mature. Joel Embiid, who finished the night with 18 points and 13 rebounds, is usually turnover prone, but despite constant double-teams was able to come out unscathed and with zero turnovers.