Since the November trade bwtween the Sixers and Timberwolves, January 15 was a game circled on the calendar. After much anticipation, the two teams met on Tuesday in what turned out to be one-sided dominance from the Sixers. When all what said and done, Philadelphia trounced Minnesota 149-107, setting a few new team records in the process.
Here's a quick glance at the new marks Philadelphia set on Tuesday, courtesy of Sixers Stats:
- 21 three-pointers made: The Sixers went 21-for-43 from beyond the arc, setting a new team record. The previous record was 18 triples in a game, which happened back in the 2017-18 NBA playoffs. The Sixers hit 18 three's in Game 1 against the Miami Heat.
- 149 points: Philadelphia's 149 points are the most scored by any team ever in a game at the Wells Fargo Center. The 149 points were also the most in a game for the Sixers since 1990. The last time they scored more than 149? 1986.
- 40 assists: The Sixers tallied 40 assists and Minnesota only made 35 shots. Sheesh. Those 40 dimes tied an NBA season high set in three overtimes by the Wizards. 40 assists is the most by the Sixers in a regulation game since December 7, 1988, when they had 45 against Denver.
The Sixers looked strong wire-to-wire, something they have struggled to do all season. They led 40-27 after one and 83-58 at half. For a team that usually lets the opposition back in it, Jimmy Butler went into the locker room making sure that wouldn't happen.
"Look, I'll tell you right now...when I went into to halftime, I said 'yo, we're not giving up this lead, we're gonna build upon it'," Butler said post-game. "We need to do that more consistently -- when we have a lead, build on it -- but I think at home, it's definitely to our advantage to keep going when you have a lead."
Butler played in the flow of the offense all night against his former team, and was very efficient in doing so. In 26 minutes, Jimmy scored 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting, including 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. He added four assists, three rebounds, two steals and a block.
"Man, I do wanna beat those guys, but I wanna beat every team," Butler said about facing his old teammates. "A win at home is always good. By that large of a margin is great too because guys get rest. But I'm taking any and all wins, not just against the Timberwolves."
Philadelphia's 42-point win included stellar performances from Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid played just 27 minutes, finishing with 31 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and a block. Meanwhile, Simmons continued his recent stretch of spectacular play, tallying 20 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and three blocks in another stat-stuffing performance.
On the other side of the court, Dario Saric and Robert Covington returned to Philly for the first time since the trade and the two received a standing ovation following the Sixers' tribute video that played during the first quarter. Covington didn't play due to an ankle injury, but Saric came off the bench to score 11 points on 5-for-9 shooting against his former club.
Perhaps the best moment during the game with Dario came against one of his best friends, T.J. McConnell. With just over five minutes to go in the third, and the Sixers leading 101-73, McConnell got the ball beyond the three-point arc and looked his former teammate in the eye and began to iso. After a nifty crossover, T.J. hit the mid-range jumper over Dario and followed it up by giving him a nice smack on the tush.
tj hits the jumper on dario and slaps him on the butt after pic.twitter.com/3xg1UaQiY6— Drew Corrigan (@Dcorrigan50) January 16, 2019
After the game, McConnell attempted to explain his actions.
"Kinda just got to my spot on the court and...I don't know," said T.J. "I tend to black-out in those situations. But it was, like you said, a friendly tap and I wouldn't have done it to anyone else. Just kinda having fun with the guys you build relationships with over the years."
"I'm usually not in an isolation situation," continued McConnell. "But, I found myself there and made the shot and he was just standing right there, so I gave him a little tap. I know he would've done the same to me if roles were reversed. I think Trust the Friendship will always be alive."
As for Dario, he didn't take the tush tap seriously and confirmed that Trust The Friendship was still a thing.
Saric gives his take on being scored on by McConnell: “Yeah, trust the friendship.” pic.twitter.com/xtSg8fGWYS— Jessica Camerato (@JessicaCamerato) January 16, 2019
Saric was also very appreciative of the ovation he and the other former Sixers received upon their return.
"It means a lot to me. They respect me and they appreciate what I did the last two years, three years here and very thankful for that."
Oh, and what would a win like this be without a Joel Embiid troll tweet? Yep, Tro-el Embiid is back...this time paying tribute to Jimmy Butler's infamous practice towards the end of this tenure in Minnesota.
The Sixers and T'Wolves will meet one more time this season out in Minneapolis on March 30.