This year’s Sixers are so much better than last year’s Sixers it isn’t funny. Admittedly, 26-45 (so far) is probably not much to write home about, but 10-72, posted by the previous edition, is the stuff of bad comedy routines. That said, Philly was somewhat depleted coming in, missing Tiago Splitter, Jerryd Bayless, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, but they put up quite a fight early on, and they were down only seven after the first quarter. Still, the Sixers have never won in Oklahoma City, and they weren’t about to start now. With the starters mostly cooped up, the Sixers bench got a chance to shine, with Nik Staukas posting a team-high 20 and the reserves grabbing 62 of Philadelphia’s 97 points. Just their luck, the Thunder bench was destined for 63 tonight, as OKC swept the Sixers for yet another year, 122-97.
The dominance of the Thunder in the usual statistical categories was pretty much total, with 55 percent shooting, a 54-29 advantage on the boards, and 26-19 on assists. (One exception: three-point shots, at which the Thunder managed only four of 16, while the Sixers made eight of 25.) Russell Westbrook had one of his more efficient outings, bagging a triple-double (18-11-14) on a mere six shots and six free throws; he didn’t miss a shot all night. Victor Oladipo came up with 18 of his own, but team high, once more, went to Enes Kanter, who hit eight of nine for 24 points. Things were going well enough that Nick Collison was pried off the bench for eight and a half minutes; he responded with seven points and five rebounds.
So ends a 2-1 homestand. Now the road beckons for three, at Houston Sunday afternoon, at Dallas Monday evening, and at Orlando Wednesday evening. The Thunder remain in the #6 slot, a game and a half behind the Clippers and a game ahead of the Grizzlies. In the first round of the playoffs, sixth seed plays third seed, which will likely be the Rockets. But you gotta beat ’em this weekend first.