Saturday night, the Sixers easily handled the Los Angeles Clippers 112-98 at the Wells Fargo Center. Fueled by 29 points and 16 rebounds from Joel Embiid and 17 points and eight assists from TJ McConnell, they won their 9th straight game at home and started off their five-game homestead with three straight wins.
As great of win as that was, it still wasn’t the best news of the night for the team.
Shortly after the win, it became official that shooting guard Marco Belinelli committed to sign with the Sixers. The 31-year old’s $6.3 million contract is being bought out by the Atlanta Hawks and he will clear waivers come Monday. Since he is being bought out before the March 1 deadline, he will be eligible to play in the postseason if the Sixers should retain the playoff spot that they currently own.
Belinelli possesses a great three-point shooting ability that the Sixers bench could really use some assistance with. Time and time again this season, the Sixers bench has gone through some rough offensive droughts, going minutes at a time without scoring a point. The constant teasing of Markelle Fultz news that seems to waver from good to bad every other week provides no assurance that he will be able to contribute for sure this season.
One major question to ponder is who’s minutes will Belinelli be digging into once he gets his playing time. He averaged 11.4 PPG this season for the Hawks, which is more than any other bench player on the Sixers right now as the next closest is Jerryd Bayless averaging 7.9 PPG. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Justin Anderson figure to lose some minutes off the bench also, but I would expect Bayless to lose the most amount of playing time out of the three players. Just looking at recent play over the past few weeks, TLC and Anderson have really stepped up their game and are showing hustle and efficiency on both ends of the court, an argument that is tough to make for Bayless.
This is a great signing for the Sixers especially after they were quiet at the trade deadline. Many fans wanted to see them be active and bring in another piece to make a push for the payoffs, but they declined to make any moves. His scoring off the bench will be a major help to this team continuing to pursue their first playoff birth since 2012.