HomeSportsJoel Embiid Returns to MVP Form in Victory Over Hawks

Joel Embiid Returns to MVP Form in Victory Over Hawks


Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts after a foul is called during the second half against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena on November 10, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Just two days after a frustrating loss at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks, the 76ers returned to Philadelphia seeking revenge. They achieved just this by producing an improved effort level from the team highlighted by the MVP-like performance of Joel Embiid. The Sixers once led by 27 points in the third quarter and held the Hawks at an arms’ length for the bulk of the game. Atlanta showed some fight and scrapped back into the game, but the Sixers ultimately secured a 121-106 victory to move to 6-7 on the season.

Embiid’s MVP-like Effort

The story of the game was the Sixers superstar. Embiid clearly took this matchup seriously right from the opening tip and scored the Sixers’ first 10 points in the matchup. He tallied a season-high 42 points on 14-25 shooting and got to the free-throw line 16 times. The big man also recorded a season-high in assists with six while adding 10 rebounds, two blocks, and two steals.

The increased defensive intensity set the tone for the Sixers and helped them to pick up the victory. The Sixers seemed to make a notable improvement in their pick-and-roll defense which was an area of weakness against the Hawks on Thursday. Trae Young, who ended with 27 points and 11 assists, is artful in his playmaking in these sets and leans on John Collins and Clint Capela to produce off these looks. While it is impossible to fully neutralize these looks, the coverage by Embiid deterred the Hawks in a way that helped the Sixers greatly.

Embiid left in all on the floor by clocking 40 minutes in the matchup. After seemingly extending the lead out of reach, the Hawks went on a run to keep it a contest. Embiid checked back into the matchup with 3:08 remaining in the third quarter. He played the final 15:08 of the game minutes for the Sixers and was vital to the team’s win. His ability to control the offense was put on display with him orchestrating the offense with his decisions and proving to be the anchor of the team on the defensive end. Embiid also knocked down a three-pointer in the final possession rather than take a shot-clock violation to put an exclamation point on the performance.

Tyrese Maxey’s Strong Play

As great as Embiid is, he cannot do it on his own. Tyrese Maxey stepped up into the co-star the team needed, ending with 26 points and nine assists. He shot 10-18 from the field and shot 3-5 on three-point attempts in the victory.

This was especially refreshing considering the Kentucky product has been in a bit of a shooting slump in recent games. In the three games leading up to this victory, Maxey connected on just 19 of his 64 shot attempts (29.7%). He also shot just 6-23 (26.1%) from beyond the three-point arc. This changed in this matchup as Maxey used his burst to get to the basket and this threat opened up the rest of his game as well. There was an increase in usage in the two-man game with Maxey and Embiid which proved to be effective.

Tobias Harris also had a productive game as he ended with 21 points and six rebounds. He attacked the basket well and got to the free-throw line six times. The trio of Embiid, Maxey, and Harris combined for 73.6% of the Sixers’ points in the matchup. Matisse Thybulle also knocked down a notable three-pointer with 1:39 remaining to extend the Sixers’ lead from eight to 11.

This was a necessary win for the Sixers who still have some work to do on the season. The team remains under .500 and will have a chance to change this tomorrow against a youthful Utah Jazz team. They must continue to build off this victory if they want to grow into the contenders they seek to be. It is clear Embiid has woken up from the funk he began the season in and stepped into the center stage of the Sixers’ performance. While it is great to see this occur and the victory was secured, it should be noted that this type of high-usage 40-minute performance likely won’t be sustainable throughout the season.

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