By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor
The Sixers and Lakers would square off on Wednesday night in a matchup that held NBA finals implications. This battle of conference juggernauts would not disappoint, as the game would go down to the closing moments.
After some late-game heroics from Tobias Harris, the Sixers would walk away with a one point victory over the defending champs. Here are some takeaways from the star-studded contest.
Clash of MVP frontrunners
Along with having both conference-leading teams, this matchup would also showcase two early favorites for the MVP award this year. Joel Embiid and LeBron James have each been off to dominant starts for their respective teams.
Both players would remind everyone why they are in the conversation for league MVP, putting on great performances in this must-match matchup.
Father time continues to miss LeBron James as he continues to be a top player in the league in his 18th season. He would go on to drop 34 points, six rebounds, and six assists against the Sixers on Wednesday night.
Embiid continues to do a phenomenal job leading the charge for the Sixers this season. Despite facing off against a familiar for in Marc Gasol, Embiid continues to be an unstoppable force on offense.
The reigning Eastern Conference player of the week would rack up 28 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals in this statement victory over the Lakers. He continues to sustain the high level of play we have seen all season while rising the MVP ladder in the process.
Sixers have a legitimate big three
In games like this teams rely on their stars heavily, and the Sixers' stars would all lead the charge in this victory. We already mentioned how well Embiid played, but the other two All-Stars on the Sixers would get a piece of the action as well.
Ben Simmons has always seemed to step up in matchups against LeBron James in the past, and this would be no different. He would be the team's third-leading scorer with 17 points en route to finishing with a triple-double. With that triple-double, The 24-year-old All-Star now sits at 13th all-time in triple-doubles.
Turnovers have been a major issue for Simmons' in the team's recent stretch, but he would take great care of the ball against the Lakers. He would dish 10 assists in the game and only cough up the ball once.
Tobias Harris has easily been the biggest bright spot for the Sixers this season outside of Embiid's MVP-Esq resume. His confidence looks to be at an all-time high, and it's resulting in some of his best play in a Sixers' uniform.
Harris continues to be a great second option on offense behind Embiid this season. He would end this game with 24 points, including the biggest shot of the game. The ball was put in his hands in the closing moments and he would deliver a jumper over Alex Caruso to seal the victory for the Sixers.
The play from these three has been incredible and is a big reason why they sit atop the Eastern Conference standings. It is time to start referring to this trio as a legitimate big three in the league.
Coming up in the clutch
When Doc Rivers spoke to the media pregame on Wednesday, one of the things he brought up was the team's play in fourth quarters this season. He would go on to say that he has liked the grit the team has played with late in games, mentioning that "it's one of the things great teams do."
His comments would play out right in front of us as the team would put on a good performance in the closing minutes.
Along with hitting shots down the stretch, the Sixers also did a good job defending the final period, specifically on the Lakers' stars. James and Davis carried the load for the Lakers for a larger majority of this game but would shoot a combined 2/8 from the floor in the fourth quarter.
Who is going to close games for the Sixers has been a big discussion around the Sixers since the departure of Jimmy Butler, and they would do it by committee in this one. When Joel Embiid was denied the ball in the final possession, Tobias Harris did a great job keeping the play alive and generating a good look that would eventually win the game for the Sixers.
Seeing them execute in the final moments against a team like the Lakers was arguably the biggest takeaway from this game. With the way this group has come together in such a short time, the possibilities are endless for how good they can be by the end of a 'full' regular season.