PHILADELPHIA–On paper, the Philadelphia 76ers are the much better team compared to their opponent on Thursday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Sixers are a team that features the likes of Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and others while the Thunder feature two rookies and a second-year player in their starting lineup.
However, this is the NBA. Any team can be beaten on any night and that’s what happened on Thursday as the Thunder marched into the Wells Fargo Center and knocked off the Sixers 133-114. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 37 points for Oklahoma City and they shot 51.2% from the floor as a team in order to get it done on the road.
Josh Giddey added 20 points, eight assists, and four rebounds as the Thunder brought the Sixers back down to earth after Philadelphia beat up on the Detroit Pistons for two games.
Doc Rivers issued a warning
“We got beat,” said Rivers. “Shai beat our best defenders over and over again…we told them. We tried to tell them. This team plays hard, they move the ball, this is not the team you just played. This team has players. Not just Shai, but Giddey, all of them. They play right and if you’re not prepared to play this team, you’ll lose to them. I didn’t think we were ready tonight.”
Playing down to their opponent
“I think sometimes you play down to your opponent,” added Matisse Thybulle. “It’s the hardest thing mentally as a basketball player. I’ve had coaches preach about it since I was a little kid, but sometimes it happens, and then we’ve managed to find it a little bit too late and we’d already dug ourselves too deep a hole.”
Giving the young Thunder confidence
“You give a team like that confidence early,” added James Harden. “They just rode that wave the entire game.”
Getting into foul trouble
“I got in foul trouble,” said Joel Embiid. “I barely played like 30 seconds in the second quarter. They got the big league going into halftime, and from there, we just kept chasing. It’s hard when it’s that way so I guess I just gotta stop fouling, but on the other end, it’s still about defense. If you can’t guard your own man, it’s all of us, if we can’t guard our own man, we’re not going to be good defensively. No matter how tight we are with our schemes and executing whatever we have to do with a game plan, you’re just not going to work out.”
Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire