Given that the Philadelphia 76ers led the Chicago Bulls by 20-plus points for much of Wednesday night’s contest, it comes as little surprise that many starters saw career-highs in time spent on the bench.
One of those players was PJ Tucker, who saw just 24 minutes of action Wednesday. He didn’t put up the prettiest stats over that time — five points and three rebounds — but he did post a monstrous net rating of plus-34 in that little time.
After the game, head coach Doc Rivers lauded the veteran’s contributions, especially those that don’t appear on the final game report.
“PJ was great,” Rivers told reporters, per Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire. “He looked great. He moved as well as I’ve seen him move so he played well. Defensively, made shots but his energy — listen we’re a completely different defensive team when PJ Tucker is on the floor and it’s not even close.”
Defense was the name of the game for the Sixers on Wednesday, who held the Bulls to just 91 points, including 24% from three.
Tobias Harris Sounds Off on Sixers Defense Versus Bulls
While Tucker saw limited minutes, fellow starter Tobias Harris was on the floor for 33 minutes, tied with De’Anthony Melton for second-most among starters.
After the win, Harris explained how the Sixers pulled off the rousing win, learning from the mistakes made in the Sixers’ loss to Chicago earlier in the week.
“Defensively, I thought we were just totally locked in from the start of the game, getting stops getting out running,” Harris said postgame. “We know they’re a team that over-helps a lot, too. So making that first pass, the quick pass as well, that opened up the game for us, and we were able to make shots and just roll from there.”
On Monday night, the Sixers looked the part of a decent defensive team, holding the Bulls to just 91 points (coincidentally) through four quarters.
But while the defense looked tight, the shots simply didn’t fall for the Sixers, who also only managed 91 points during regulation.
Thankfully, the offense showed up Wednesday for the Sixers, who had over 70 points at halftime.
Zach Lavine Shouts Out Joel Embiid After Sixers Win
For Bulls star Zach LaVine, the Sixers’ offensive explosion Wednesday wasn’t a surprise.
“We knew they were going to come out strong like that,” LaVine said. “They did the right thing. They did a lot of adjustments. It was tough.”
LaVine also name-dropped Joel Embiid, who didn’t return at halftime with a calf injury. Regardless, the big man was able to wreak havoc in just two-quarters of action.
“Joel, give credit to him, we were set on getting the ball out of his hands, and he did it fast. And those guys made a lot of shots, 3s to open (the game) up.”
A victory over the Bulls was a nice start to a road trip out West that sees the Sixers take on the Warriors, Suns, and Nuggets over the next week.
The Nuggets game in particular will likely be a referendum on the MVP award, with Embiid battling Nikola Jokic for the honors. A strong showing against Jokic could lift Embiid over the hump, securing the former Jayhawk’s first MVP honor.