Joel Embiid and JJ Redick combined for 49 points to help the Sixers get a victory against the New York Knicks on Christmas Day.
Stages in the NBA don’t get much bigger than playing on Christmas.
Embiid finished the day with 25 points, 16 rebounds and 3 blocks with JJ Redick right behind with 24 points and a couple of clutch 3-pointers. Rookie of the Year favorite Ben Simmons had a downright pedestrian day with 8 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists while T.J. McConnell made the most of his debut on Christmas Day, scoring 15 points off the bench, including eight in a row to close out the third quarter.
For the Knicks, center Enes Kanter had a monster afternoon, scoring 31 points and pulling down 22 boards for a double-double. “The Unicorn” Kristaps Porzingis had 22 points and 7 rebounds but it wasn’t enough to stop the Sixers from getting the win.
Turnovers continue to be a real concern with this Sixers team as they committed 15 over the course of the game, including one by Embiid late in the fourth quarter that could have been disastrous. It’s a problem head coach Brett Brown needs to fix and soon, otherwise wins will continue to be difficult to come by.
The win snaps a five-game losing streak and was Embiid’s second game back after missing three straight since aggravating his back as a result of the now-legendary three-overtime thriller against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Playing on Christmas was important to Embiid, explaining before the game:
“To me it’s special because I’ve been here four years and we’ve gone through a lot and a lot of losing. To be in this type of matchup, especially with the whole world watching on Christmas, I’m excited.”
It was the Sixers first time playing on Christmas since 2001 and the team’s first win on December 25 since 1988 when they played at the Spectrum and defeated Washington.
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There are still plenty of questions about this Sixers team, such as Embiid’s health, being able to close out close games and the future of Brown’s tenure as coach. But on Monday, the Sixers gave fans exactly what they wanted under their Christmas tree: a win.
Next the 76ers head west for their second of two matchups this season with the Portland Trail Blazers.