By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor
It was an ugly win, but a win nonetheless. The Sixers were able to end their three-game losing streak on Wednesday night, beating the Houston Rockets by a final score of 118-113. Here are some takeaways from the down-to-the-wire victory.
Hunting three-point shots
The Sixers would hold a big lead for a large majority of this game and it was in large part because of their outside shooting. After a road trip where it was apparent that the volume of three-point attempts is a glaring issue, the Sixers looked to be hunting for threes early on against the Rockets.
This emphasis on three-point shooting would pay off as they would heat up from deep and open up this game early. Seth Curry and Danny Green would catch fire from deep en route to shooting a combined 7-11 from three in the game.
When the Sixers are openly looking for three-point shots it makes their offense look much more dynamic, and gives Joel Embiid more than enough room to operate in the mid-range. As great as the perimeter shooting was in the first half, they back into old habits in the second half.
After going 11-18 from three in the first two quarters, they would make just one three in the second half. Houston would be able to claw back into the game because they would shoot a decent percentage from three and the Sixers would go back to trading baskets with twos against threes.
Although they would fall off from three in the second half, it was still good to see them address their lack of outside shooting in the first half. Moving forward this emphasis needs to last through entires games. Eight three-points in two quarters is not enough in today's game.
Supporting cast bounces back
Another area that has hurt the Sixers recently is the lack of production from the supporting cast. That would not be the case against the Rockets as guys would step up and give good production behind Embiid and Tobias Harris.
Curry and Green were two of the key players to step up in this game. Along with their good shooting from deep, they would also combine for 37 points. Their scoring boost was much needed with Ben Simmons not in the lineup.
The bench would struggle for the most part again this matchup, but one player would stand out. Tyrese Maxey continues to see a minutes boost in the absence of Shake Milton and he made the most of it against the Rockets. He would be one of five Sixers to end the game in double-figures, scoring 10 points on 4-7 shooting.
If the Sixers are going to get back to their winning ways the second unit is going to need to get back to playing how it did to start the year. Embiid, Simmons, and Harris have all been playing great basketball this season, but it will be hard to remain competitive when teams take control of games when they are off the floor.
Matisse Thybulle's defensive impact
Ben Simmons would be a late scratch in this game due to a non-COVID-related illness. In his absence, Doc Rivers would opt to start Matisse Thybulle in his place. This was likely to have a defensive player who could keep up with John Wall.
The Sixers would drop into a zone defense early and saw the similar success they saw against the Pacers when they first pulled it out. Thybulle was all over the floor in that game and would do more of the same against the Rockets.
Thybulle was the maestro of the zone defense, flying all around the floor to deflect passes and disrupt shots. He would end the night with an impressive four steals and one block.
Rivers has said in the past that having Thybulle off the bench is like 'having a great relief pitcher' in terms of his defense. His ability to impact a game defensively as a second-year player is something that we do not see often. If he can continue to figure out his game offensively he will a key impact player for the Sixers when the postseason rolls around.