By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor
The Sixers would be back on their home floor Thursday night in a matchup against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. Both teams would start slow in this game, but it didn't take long for the Sixers to take full control.
Team defense would carry the Sixers, making every possession tough for the Mavericks. This engaged defense, along with strong performances from Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, would lead the Sixers to a convincing 111-97 victory.
Ben Simmons would not appear to have a great game looking at the box score, but he would be the standout player for the Sixers on Thursday night. His aggressive play on both ends of the floor would be a key factor in the Sixers running away with this game.
Simmons would finish this game with a stat line of 15 points, three rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and one block. What was most impressive about Simmons' efforts was his defense on Luka Doncic.
From the opening tip, Simmons made his life miserable, giving him no room to operate and funneling him right to Joel Embiid in the lane. Doncic would end the night with 19 points and turned the ball over seven times. On the other side of the floor, he continued to get downhill in transition and punish smaller matchups when switched on to him.
Embiid would have a rough shooting night on the outside but would still manage to put up numbers. Despite shooting 5-20 on the night the MVP favorite would score 23 points in just under 28 minutes of action.
Things would not go well for Tobias Harris in this matchup. He would score just six points before leaving the game in the second half due to a right knee contusion.
The Sixers' second unit has been in a dry spell over the last two weeks, but they would have a much-needed breakout game against Dallas. 46 of the team's 111 points would come from the bench.
Shake Milton and Dwight Howard in particular would lead the surge off the bench. Both would be two of the five Sixers to finish this game in double figures. Milton would score 10 points and dish six assists, while Howard would rack up 14 points and come down with eight rebounds.
Three-point shooting has also hurt the Sixers at times in their recent stretch but they look to be getting hot from deep after Tuesday's game against the Raptors. Five different Sixers would hit at least two threes tonight en route to shooting 41.4% from beyond the arc as a group. This effectiveness from the outside did a great job opening up the floor for Embiid and Simmons to attack around the rim.
The Sixers couldn't have kicked off their final stretch of the first half of the season in a better fashion. They were able to get their stars off their feet for the entire fourth quarter and keep up their dominant play on their home floor. Looking ahead, their next game will be on Saturday facing off against Collin Sexton and the Cleveland Cavaliers.