After 4 months of drama and antics cultivating in the return of the Philadelphia 76ers , the dust has finally settled. And without Ben Simmons, the Sixers are still an exact carbon copy of what they’ve always been.
— NBA (@NBA) October 23, 2021
The Sixers late game collapse against the Nets is just the latest chapter in the Choking Manual the Sixers have written. For 44 minutes, the team looks and is statistically one of the most efficient teams in the NBA. They move the ball on offense, get quality open looks, space the floor for Joel Embiid, and play solid defense.
In the final 4 minutes, they look like five cricket players being handed a basketball for the first time in their lives. They look truly incapable of handling the most basic elements of the game. And then they tear your heart out, and they lose.
I’ve watched the same Sixers game 200 times
Q1: race out to early lead behind crowd energy
Q2: teams settle in, Sixers hold control
Q3: refocused at half
Q4: take command, looks like a W
Last 4 mins: look like 5 cricket players being handed a basketball for the first time
— A (@aidan_34_powers) October 23, 2021
But any Philly fan sitting here tonight in the dawn of a new season with their heart ripped out due to that loss to Brooklyn, hasn’t learned their lesson that they should have learned long ago. This team simply was not built to close.
The overarching dilemma this team faces is their best player plays in the post during an era where basketball games are won on the perimeter. The team doesn’t feature a dynamic ball-handler who can create their own shot. It causes defenses to lack fear in other players and hone their focus on Embiid. What follows is an avalanche of bad shots and turnovers.
They have not changed. Marc Jackson said during tonights late game collapse that was “one of the most frustrating endings he has ever seen for players, coaches and fans”. This does not even crack the Top 10 of frustrating, throw your hands up in defeat, endings the Sixers have had in the past five years. Maybe not even the Top 20.
The irony of it all is: the team looked EXACTLY the same without the services of Ben Simmons. Right now, he simply put is just another Sixers guard who cannot be trusted to create their own shot. Until the Sixers have THAT guard, the script is written for their games against quality opponents. If there is a dog in the movie, what do you think happens at the end? The Sixers are that dog.
WHAT WENT WRONG TONIGHT:
Well, Doc Rivers.
With 5:32 remaining, the Sixers took a commanding ten point lead following a Matisse Thybulle alley-pop that forced the Nets into a timeout. Joel Embiid, who was at the scorers table before the timeout, was sent back to the bench. Did we not learn our lesson against Brooklyn last year? This isn’t the game for rest, it is the game to go for the jugular. He saved Embiid’s knee precisely one minute and thirty seconds in game time. Congrats. The Nets were given life in the meantime.
The Sixers have two multi-billionaire owners in Josh Harris and Michael Rubin. If Danny Green owes someone a substantial amount of money, just say something. We can pay it off, but don’t throw games like that. What Rivers could have done while Danny Green was confidently chucking airballs is replaced him with Matisse Thybulle. Not that Green is a bad defender, but Thybulle is elite. If that is what Green is giving you on the offensive end, you mine as well play Thybulle.
Here is a basic rule of thumb: if there is a minute left in the game and you still have your challenge, use it! You can’t take it with you! Rivers had multiple opportunities to challenge two VERY questionable calls down the stretch. It certainly looked like Danny Green had drawn a charge on Kevin Durant. The ball also appeared to have gone out of bounds off Kevin Durant’s leg. Neither were challenged, both should have resulted in a turnover for Brooklyn.
And that’s a wrap on the Sixers latest disappointing, but not surprising collapse.