If the Sixers Win Without Joel Embiid, Does It Even Count?

The good news: The Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Washington Wizards last night by a score of 109 to 102, playing an awesome team game and emerging triumphant over a pretty lifeless squad missing one of their best players. The bad news: Joel Embiid rode the pine for the game, with the Sixers opting to instead use Weapon X II tomorrow night in Minnesota against the Timberwolves (the team's first TNT game since 1978) -- so, by 2016-17 Process rules, the W didn't actually count. Pity.

Still, it was a hell of a performance by the remaining Sixers. By my count, at least three Ballers played their best game of the season: Despite silly foul trouble that ultimately limited his PT to a scant 20 minutes, Jahlil Okafor was unstoppable on offense, scoring 19 on 8-11 shooting, making some glistening high-low passes to Dario Saric at the basket, and holding his own on the boards. Gerald Henderson made life tough on the perimeter for John Wall (even if the other Sixers made life easy for him everywhere else) hit some huge shots down the stretch (ending with 14 on 6-11 shooting), and made 1/3 of the play of the night (more on that later). And Nik Stauskas was officially Sauce Castillo tonight, riding his recent spicy streak to a season-high 15 points off the bench, on 6-8 shooting (2-3 from downtown). 

But the player this game will be remembered for (or would if it counted) is undoubtedly Richaun Holmes. Our backup five only took three shots all night, but he made all three, two of them were from distance, and one of them saved the game for Philly. A miserable iso for Dario Saric -- which nearly resulted in him losing the ball on a drive to the basket -- somehow ended with him dishing to a cutting Gerald Henderson, who made the pass of his friggin' career in kicking across his body to an open Holmes in the corner. Holmes drained the triple, putting the Sixers up six with just over a minute to go, ultimately sealing his victory. Between Richaun and Joel, Sixers centers are now 12-23 from deep on the season. Pretty respectable. 

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Oh, did I mention that the Sixers were up 24 once or twice in this unofficial basketball game? Yeah, got off to a very hot start, especially on defense and on the boards -- Saric, coming off the bench for the first time this season, was Cookie Monster on the glass early, slowing down late but still finishing with his second double-double of the season (13 and 12). Shocker, the Wizards came surging back, and a couple times looked like they were gonna take this thing over. But with John Wall limited in minutes (he only played 23 on the night, Washington perhaps saving him for their New York game tomorrow) and Bradley Beal out altogether, the former-Bullets just didn't quite have the ammo -- especially not with just about everyone on the Sixers except Robert Covington playing above their station, and especially not with Rich Boy throwing some threes on that bitch. 

Too bad it doesn't go in the books, then -- would've been nice to get multiple legit wins in November again. Luckily, Embiid comes back tomorrow night, and it seems pretty legit at this point that this 76ers team, particularly with JoJo, is legitimately superior to the last three years' squads, and also maybe to a handful of teams in the Association. The true victories will soon follow for the 1-6 Sixers, and in the meantime, this felt pretty good for a W that doesn't even count.

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