While the Sixers had the lead, they let it all slip away in the last three minutes of the game and it cost them when Eric Gordon hit the game winning three pointer as time expired. We are taking a look at the issues that team faced last night in the Six Shots.
1. Ben Simmons didn’t hit his double-double as he has in the first few games. He came up just short with 14 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds. These numbers are still very good and he’s going to keep getting better. His issue seems to be holding the ball too long at some points during the game. He is slowing down the offense while he’s evaluating the floor and too often making passes with little time remaining on the shot clock. This will need to improve if the Sixers are going to compete with teams like the Rockets, who seems to put up points in a hurry and they put up a lot of them. Simmons is still not shooting from outside, which isn’t a bad thing as he knows his limitations, but he needs to get the ball moving more and make quicker decisions at some points in the game.
2. Joel Embiid picked up three quick fouls in the first quarter and sat for the second. While Embiids outside shooting and movement can space the floor and draw out a defender, he has to believe in the inside game and use his larger frame to control the game from down low. When he started doing this in the fourth quarter, he was producing better and the Sixers are much better offensively. If he can stay down low, he can start grabbing offensive rebounds that the team desperately needs when they’re shooters are having bad nights. Despite the addition of Simmons and Fultz, this team is Joels and as he goes, so do the Sixers.
3. Dario Saric has disappeared completely. 16 minutes played and zero points as he missed his ony shot. The Sixers need to evaluate him and see if it’s the fatigue of over two straight years of basketball or if it’s a mental issue. They’re also not doing him any favors by having him out with the second unit, that’s a whole level or two below the first unit as far as talent-wise. If they don’t get a hold of the real issue with Saric, it could affect his game for the season and going forward, which is something you don’t need out of a guy as talented as he is.
4. As much as Jerryd Bayless has improved his three point shooting later in his career, he’s still nothing more than a shooter now. His defense isn’t anywhere near acceptable, he doesn’t move well off the ball and he’s not a facilitator who adds assists and helps his teammates. As much as I’ve liked his shooting from beyond the arc this season (and I was feeling better about him just the other day) he’s moved right back in to being more of a liability on the floor. Especially when TJ McConnell is providing energy, defense and quality passing when he’s on the floor.
5. Speaking of McConnell, he’s proving more and more why he should be out on the floor more than just the 18 minutes per game he’s been averaging. With Fultz being on the sidelines for the next few games, McConnell showed why he’s deserving of the time. With just six points, it may not seem like a lot from him, but if you look at his 9 assists, 5 rebounds and 6 steals, that’s a hell of a stat line from a second unit guy. His energy and defense have shown he deserves more and while Bayless is the $9 Million dollar man, McConnell should be on the floor to start games and set a good defensive tone, while providing the vision and passing to take some pressure off Simmons in the opening of games. He’s shown himself to be a valuable player on this team and they should be rewarding that with more minutes and responsibility.
6. JJ Reddick and Rovert Covington are the two guys that benefit most from the mismatches that Simmons creates offensively and with Joel Embiid on the floor. Combining to go 7 of 20 form three point land isn’t helping the team. If they’re not knocking down the shots, then they need to start moving in order to get something going and not relying on standing there waiting for Simmons to hit them with a pass. You always want your shooters to shoot, but on the off nights, like hitting 33% from beyond the arc, they need to look for better quality shots. Had Convington hit even one more of his 12 attempts, then the Sixers are winning the game. Instead he was 4 of 12 and Reddick did him no favors by going 3 of 8 from the outside. Part of the problem is the Sixers get in to a mode where they lack a lot of ball movement, as I said earlier with regards to Simmons, but that doesn’t mean that these two guys can’t get better quality shots when they’re not clicking from the outside.
Markelle Fultz is shut down for at least the next three games. Although, I’m not quite sure that’s long enough for his shoulder to heal properly. As I stated the other day, he needs time to get completely healed. I don’t know what it is about the Sixers, but they have a horrible time indicating injuries and taking the correct measures to get the players in the best and most healthy shape.
If history is an indication, then they’ll have Fultz back on the court sometime next week, still injured and doing himself and the team no favors in terms of playing time and production. They’ll keep playing him until the end of December when the issue will become so much that they’re going to shut him down for the season.
This doesn’t seem to be a player problem, but rather an organizational one. It’s a consistent issue that the team should be addressing at the upper levels of management. Give Fultz more time off now in order to get himself healthy, because the Sixers should be looking at the playoffs this year and they’ll need him when it matters. I’m not saying that they’re going to be heading to the Finals if he’s playing but that’s the time of year that young guys can really grow and learn, while facing the toughest type of competition.
Sixers Round Table coming soon.
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