The Philadelphia 76ers picked up a 133-122 victory over the Lakers to move to 13-12 on the season. The biggest storyline of the night was the strong play of De’Anthony Melton who set a career-high on both sides of the floor with 33 points and seven steals. Following the victory, Joel Embiid discussed the willing shooting of Melton who connected on eight of his 12 three-point attempts. He was asked if Melton was among the most willing shooters he has played with which had the big man reminiscing about former teammates.
As Embiid put it, “I mean I’ve had JJ (Redick). JJ was great. Seth (Curry) was… I think Seth cared a lot about his percentages so he didn’t want to take tough shots but yeah. I mean JJ was on another level just the difficulty of the type of shots he was taking, it was just unbelievable. That’s why our two-man game was so successful. Same thing with Seth, our two-man game was unbelievable too.” He continued to talk about how important perimeter shooting is to opening up the offense and gave credit to Melton for answering the call in the victory.
Seth Curry and Embiid Duo
As Embiid alluded to, Curry proved to be a terrific partner for the big man during his season and a half in Philadelphia. The current Nets sniper had the most productive stretch of his career with the Sixers and averaged 13.6 points, 3.3 assists, and 2.8 rebounds across the 102 games he played. The Duke product consistently ranks among the best three-point shooters in the NBA and finished sixth in the NBA in three-point percentage during the 2020-21 season by connecting on 45.0% of his long-range attempts.
Curry’s ball-handling ability also helped make the two-man game between him and Embiid so dangerous. Beyond just damage from beyond the three-point arc, Curry did an excellent job taking dribble handoffs and stepping into mid-range jump shots. Across the 1126:07 game minutes that Curry and Embiid spent on the floor during the 2020-21 season, the duo outscored opponents by 15.1 points per 100 possessions. Curry, unfortunately, had to be included in the deal which brought in James Harden, but the sniper made a massive impact during his time with the Sixers.
Melton Playing Through Pain
It is no secret that Melton has battled some back injuries to start this season. He has missed two games so far this season and had an uncertain status leading up to several others. However, Embiid also gave some further clarity on the severity of the injury he is dealing with and the respect the superstar has toward him for playing through it.
When asked about Melton’s injury Embiid put it, “I mean he barely practices, you know, I’ll take that anytime if you show up in the game and do what he does every single night. He knows I appreciate the effort because I’ve found myself in that same situation quite a bit. You know, every single chance that I can, even when I’m hurt I want to be on the floor. So to be able to do the same even though he’s dealing with the back injury I appreciate the effort.”
Throughout his tenure with the Sixers, the franchise has struggled to find players to help maximize Embiid’s ability on the court. Melton checks a significant amount of these boxes as he brings both the impact defensively that Embiid desires to be the identity of the team and the three-point ability to space the floor. He has proven to be one of the most reliable players within the Sixers’ rotation already this year and will continue to play a massive role moving forward.