The heavily undermanned Philadelphia 76ers (23-12) fell 120-109 to the Utah Jazz (17-20) on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Tyrese Maxey finished with 25 points, nine assists and three steals. Kelly Oubre Jr. finished with 24 points on 8-of-18 shooting. Pat Beverley added 12 points, four rebounds and seven assists off the bench.
The Sixers were without Joel Embiid (left knee swelling), Tobias Harris (left ankle soreness), De’Anthony Melton (lumbar spine soreness), Robert Covington (illness) and Furkan Korkmaz (illness).
The Jazz were led in the win by Lauri Markkanen’s 33 points and 13 rebounds. Collin Sexton added in 22 points and 10 assists.
The Sixers have three days to rest and recover before their next game, a road matchup with the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. Here are some instant observations from the loss to the Jazz:
With the Sixers missing multiple starters, it would take someone stepping up in order for the team to compete against Utah. Beverley, coming off the bench, stepped up to the plate and produced in a major way. He was a force offensively, scoring through a combination of floaters around the rim and efficient 3-point shooting. He scored a team-leading 12 points in the first half.
In addition to his work scoring the basketball, Beverley continued to play his chaotic, high-energy brand of basketball. He was all over the floor, dishing out assists and pulling down offensive rebounds. After a missed free throw from Mo Bamba late in the first half, Beverley flew into the paint to snatch the offensive rebound. While Beverley’s production slowed in the second half, he still put together one of his stronger games of the season. Between his production and the mentality he brings to the team, he continues to be one of the Sixers’ most underrated offseason acquisitions.
Maxey’s performance offensively was not pretty, to say the least. With Embiid out of the lineup, the Jazz made it their priority defensively to prevent Maxey from beating them. Their efforts proved largely successful. Utah threw multiple looks at Maxey defensively in addition to not giving him much space on drives to the basket. They appeared to get away with some fouls on a few of Maxey’s drives to the basket, but overall they prevented Maxey from doing his typical damage around the rim. Maxey’s jumper was also not falling, which added insult to injury on his tough night offensively. Whether it was due to tired legs from playing on the second half of a back-to-back or just a poor night, there is no reason for concern about Maxey’s ability offensively.
For much of Oubre’s career, he has been a high-volume, low-efficiency scorer who fails to impact the game elsewhere. The results have been much different so far this season, his first playing in Philadelphia. However, on nights like this game against the Jazz he reverted back into being the player he has been for most of his career. His 3-pointer was not falling, something he was not alone in. However, he still did manage to impact the game through effectively attacking the paint in transition. He did not provide much outside of transition buckets and getting to the free-throw line. His struggles defensively continued, with Utah picking on him in isolation whenever possible. Oubre has largely exceeded expectations for much of his Sixers tenure. However, nights like this serve as a reminder of the limitations to his game.
For much of the game, the heavily shorthanded Sixers were able to keep the game within striking distance. They forced 24 turnovers through a combination of active defense and sloppy play from Utah. Nic Batum, on a night where he did little else, produced defensively by recording four steals and two blocks. However, the Sixers were unable to take advantage of all the Utah turnovers. They had one of their worst shooting games of the season, connecting on just 18.4% of their attempts from beyond the arc. Teams tend to win games where the opposition commits 24 turnovers, but the Sixers were unable to take advantage in this case.
Paul Reed had one of his best offensive games of the season. He had a few nice finishes around the rim in addition to knocking down a couple jumpers. It is definitely promising to see him begin to expand his game offensively. However, he was at best a non-factor both defensively and on the glass against the Jazz. The Sixers’ interior defense was carved up by Utah, with 72 of their points coming from in the paint. Utah shot a ridiculous 30-of-34 from the rim. Not all of the Sixers’ interior defensive issues in this game fall at Reed’s feet. However, Reed has undoubtedly regressed on that end of the floor from where he was at earlier in his career.
Jaden Springer’s offensive struggles continued against the Jazz. He missed all three of his attempts from long distance, with none of them even coming close to going in. The Jazz showed no fear of Springer’s jumper as they were more than willing to let him continue jacking up open 3-pointers. While he does provide strong defense, he has yet to take the necessary jump offensively. Until he is able to produce more on that end of the floor and stop being a liability, he will simply not be playable at the NBA level.