By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor
After picking up arguably their most hard-fought win of the season against the Kings, the Sixers would travel to Portland to take on the Trail Blazers. The Sixers would be looking to get revenge on the Blazers after losing to them on their home floor last week, but that would not be the case.
Both teams would put on a great effort in this matchup, resulting in the game coming down to the final possessions. In the end, the Blazers would hit some big shots late to come away with a 118-114 victory. The Sixers have now lost their first game of the season when all five starters in the lineup.
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons we crucial in the Sixers' effort to take this game down to the wire. Portland had no answer for Embiid the first time these teams met, and it would be more of the same in this one. He would go off for another huge scoring outing, finishing with a team-high 35 points.
Simmons came out and set the tone in this game right from the opening tip. He would score 13 points in the fourth quarter en route to dropping a season-high 23 points. Along with his scoring, Simmons would lead the team in rebounds (11) and assists (9), finishing just shy of a triple-double.
This performance from Simmons is up there with his best of the season, sadly it was in a losing effort. The level of assertiveness and confidence he has shown as of late is a great sign for him moving forward.
Two key areas that hurt the Sixers in this game were three-point shooting and offensive rebounding. Portland would grab 15 offensive rebounds in this game and knock down 11 more threes than the Sixers. Allowing the Blazers to get extra possessions off the glass would prove to be costly.
Outside shooting would be a major struggle against the Blazers for the second straight time. As a team they would shoot just 22.2% from beyond, hitting six of their 27 attempts. This would make Joel Embiid's life harder as the Blazers were able to clog the paint on him.
The Sixers' defense would do an alright job defending Damian Lillard even though he went on to finish with 30 points, but what swung the game was the play of the supporting cast. Gary Trent Jr. would get hot from deep with Lillard in the first quarter to help Portland break out to an early lead, and then Carmelo Anthony would hit huge shots in the second half to help secure the victory.
When all was said and done Trent Jr. and Anthony would finish with 19 and 24 points respectively. Shutting down the supporting cast should be a major point of attack when going against a star like Lillard, but the Blazers' role players were able to surge and help steal a late-game victory.
After picking up a hard-earned win in their last game it is tough to be on the receiving end of a loss like this. Luckily for the Sixers, they will be able to put this game behind them quickly.
Looking ahead, the Sixers will be back in action again on Saturday for an afternoon matchup against Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns.