The 76ers routed the Minnesota Timberwolves, 149-107, at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night. Here are my main takeaways and best and worst awards:
- The Sixers are starting to take advantage of their players’ strengths. For this team to be successful in the postseason, it must rely on Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid’s playing a two-man game. Well, against the Timberwolves, the duo was paired up more than in previous games. In the past, the Sixers usually paired Embiid with JJ Redick. On this night, they also put Wilson Chandler more at small forward than at power forward.
- Embiid once again showed why he deserves some league-MVP consideration. The Sixers played through the All-Star on a night he dominated fellow All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns. Philly jumped out to a 40-27 lead after one quarter thanks in part to his 13 first-quarter points and never looked back.
- Chandler showed exactly what he’s capable of when the Sixers get him involved early in games. He scored nine of his 14 points — making 3 of 4 shots, all three-pointers — in the first quarter. Chandler is often left open when playing alongside Ben Simmons, Embiid, Butler and Redick in the starting lineup. The Sixers should continue to take advantage of that.
- The Sixers posted their best performance of the season. They looked like a team that has a chance to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. However, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this. The Sixers have a knack for playing this way one night and looking like the league’s most overhyped team the next night. So they have to learn how to be more consistent and figure out the best style to play.
Best performance: This goes to Embiid, who finished with game highs of 31 points and 13 rebounds in just 27 minutes, 5 seconds of action. He made 4 of 6 three-pointers and was virtually unstoppable.
Worst performance: I had to give this to Towns. The New Jersey native struggled mightily while playing close to his home. Towns made just 4 of 10 shots en route to scoring 13 points. The 7-footer had a season-low three rebounds. The first overall pick of the 2015 draft graded out at a minus-42, meaning Minnesota was outscored by 42 points when was in the game.
Best defensive performance: Simmons gets this one. The point guard had a season-high-tying three blocked shots and added a steal.
Worst statistic: Minnesota small forward Andrew Wiggins made just 4 of 14 shots.
Best statistic: I had to give this to the Sixers' scoring a Wells Fargo Center-record 149 points. It marked the team’s most points scored since it beat the Denver Nuggets, 149-131, on March 30, 1990 at the Spectrum.