Philadelphia 76ers: No Butler, no problem against the Houston Rockets

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

In a game without Jimmy Butler, the Philadelphia 76ers blew out the Houston Rockets in impressive fashion thanks to a monster game by Joel Embiid.

If Joel Embiid is on the court, the Philadelphia 76ers have a chance to win; it’s as simple as that.

And when Embiid gets subbed out of the game at the top of the fourth with 32 points in 27 minutes, it’s all but guaranteed to be a blowout.

The Sixers’ Martin Luther King Jr. Day South Philly showdown against the Houston Rockets was a straight up blowout.

More from Philadelphia 76ers

In a game featuring a pair of MVP candidates, Embiid and James Harden, the 76ers put together one of their best team wins of the season and did so without Jimmy Butler‘s smiling face filling out the starting five, thanks to a last-minute scratch (wrist). That’s right, it was Corey Brewer, a player currently in the midst of a 10-day contract who earned a rare start in Brett Brown‘s starting five, and yet the team still found a way to score 121 points vs. 93 by the Rockets.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Just one game removed from an embarrassing buzzer-beater loss to Harden’s former teammate Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Sixers brought the thunder against a Rockets squad without Chris Paul, Clint Capela, or Carmelo Anthony, whom the team traded earlier in the day to the Chicago Bulls.

Because of the trade, the Rockets were forced to rely on the not-so-dynamic duo of Nene and Kenneth Faried (who had been with the team for about three hours before tipoff) against the best center in basketball, and it did no go very well. Embiid ate in the paint all evening, seemingly scoring at will whenever he pleased while delivering yet another bone-crushing blocked shot on the reigning MVP that left him face down on the court in the moments leading up to halftime.

Is this the start of yet another Embiid/Sixers rivalry? If so, that would bring the ever-expanding list to about half a dozen.

Now granted, this is not last season’s Houston squad, as they’re giving up about 110 points a game this season, as opposed to the 103 points they gave up last season, but still, did anyone really expect that a Sixers squad without Jimmy Butler would deliver to the Rockets their worst loss of the season?

No, but maybe we should have.

Sure, Butler and his 19 points a game were unavailable, but the team got 12 points from T.J. McConnell, 18 from Landry Shamet, and 11 from Brewer, so that kind of evened things out. Had Ben Simmons and Wilson Chandler each scored one more point, the 76ers would have had seven of their 11 active players score in double-digits, a surefire sign of a win.

Next. Brett Brown was right about Nemanja Bjelica. dark

Furthermore, the 76ers had 21 assists on the evening, with every single player, save Shamet, facilitating dimes to one of their teammates. When the Sixers are moving the ball and getting everyone involved they win; and in this game, they won about as big as anyone could have imagined. Who knows, maybe this game can serve as a blueprint of sorts for the Philadelphia 76ers’ new winning formula?