Last night was some of the most exciting and then the most disgusting basketball I’ve seenin a very long time. The first quarter of the Sixers/Bucks game was great for Sixers fans. Then the Bucks worked their way back from a huge deficit only to see the Sixers put another one up on them. In the third quarter, it all fell of the tracks.
Prior to each game, Brett Brown needs to sit the team down, in full uniform and have them make sure they understand that passes only go to the guys dressed like you. The turnovers have been a problem for the team, all season, but this game they were horrible. Twenty-six of them to be exact. It’s the same number of assists that they had for the game. The two biggest perpetrators were Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. As the point guard, Simmons will have his share of turnovers, but the six he had last night were way more than an acceptable amount. Joel Embiid, on the other hand, is throwing the ball away at almost 4 per game. As the center, that’s not ideal for him. The big problem that I have with Embiid, he’s trying to be a guard, way too much. His ability and strength are virtually unmatched in the low post in the league. He’s worked on his low post moves enough that he’s nearly impossible to guard when he’s working the ball down low. The problem is that he tries to do too much. He’s constantly outside the three-point line and trying to take defenders off the dribble. Conveniently mentioned during the broadcast was how he grew up playing soccer as he kicks the ball off his legs on a regular basis. Embiid, contrary to what his coach thinks, shouldn’t be starting out possessions outside the arc and looking for three pointers. He should be down low, taking advantage of centers that can’t guard him.
The European Wonderkid:
Dario Saric has continued to impress, late in the season. Over the last five games he’s scoring almost 17 points per game with just over 7 rebounds per game. Those are both good stats, but his 43% from three-pointers is where it’s really been helpful. Last night, against the Bucks, he was 4 of 5 from beyond the arc. He’s been coming on strong, like he did last year, at a time when a lot of younger players, seem to hit a wall during the long NBA season, this seems to be the time of year that Saric really shines. If anyone thinks that Saric should be shipped out of town for anyone, they’re crazy. The guy is 6’10” and 23 years old with a good feel for the game and a developing outside game that’s just getting better. Saric should be in for the long haul with this team and there’s nothing that should change that.
The Fultz conundrum:
I can’t take the Markelle Fultz situation any longer. The video that’s been shown lately, is Fultz shooting from the outside and three-point area, with what looks like a good form and accuracy. You can’t tell me that his athleticism and defensive skill wouldn’t help this team. As the playoffs get closer and become more than likely a reality, for the Sixers, Fultz would be a welcome addition. It’s not like he could hurt. The second unit is horrible, but what’s worse is that you never know who’s going to be on that unit. RIchaun Holmes, a very good defensive player, didn’t play last night while Amir Johnson had 15 minutes. Fultz, coming back and getting minutes, even on the second unit, would greatly help the team. He would also be able to provide some second unit scoring. Having him healthy and sitting on the bench is a huge mistake and it sits squarely on the shoulders of Bryan Colangelo, who with each passing day, is making it more and more difficult to even think of him as competent. Fultz needs to play and he needs to play now.
Timing of timeouts:
Brett Brown needs to start using his timeouts more wisely. When he sees the team, as they were last night, getting burned at every possession, he needs to recognize it quicker and get the timeout taken, prior to a team scoring 20 straight points. It’s really pathetic to watch a professional coach, not recognize that something is wrong with his team at that moment. Every pass on offense was off the mark, every shot was off the mark, every player on defense looked lost and there was no energy in the team. Take the timeout, regroup a bit and change up the personnel on the floor. Watching Belinelli, McConell, and Ilyasova out there at the same time, losing the ball each time down the floor for about three straight minutes, isn’t going to lead to success and will have them bounced out of the playoffs really quickly. Also, besides the $11 Million that he makes, why would he put Amir Johnson on the floor. He’s just a poor performing player. There’s no reason to have him out there and Holmes not getting a minute or putting any of the other 6’10” guys at the five for a few minutes.
It’s absolutely amazing to hear the daily talk about how poorly Robert Covington is playing. I’m not sure if anyone has ever seen Covington play, prior to this season, or if they’re just dreaming of the amazing few games he had at the start of the season. In his defense, and much to the chagrin of the fans, he’s playing exactly as he has for his entire career. His offensive and defensive stats this year, are the exact same as they’ve been for his career. Blocks, steals, points, rebounds, area all the same. Do you know what’s not the same? His shooting. He’s actually performing better, percentage wise, in field goals, three-pointers and foul shooting. So, why all the negative comments and energy directed toward him? The contract extension?
With the number of poor contracts throughout the league, this one isn’t one of them. It’s a slight reward for how he’s played, but it’s also banking on them keeping his 13 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals per game for the next four years. He’s not going to shoot 50% from three-pointers, as he was earlier this season, but he’s going to provide you with a few timely shots and good defense. The secondary scoring and rebounding are a huge bonus and people tend to romanticize these players and think that after signing his contract, that Convington would somehow become Klay Thompson and shoot 44% throughout the season. He’s a career 35% shooter and is hitting at almost 37% this season. He’s been exactly what the Sixers thought he would be and paid for, as he’s been over his four-year career and should be commended on his consistent play, not beat up over his contract.
Hopefully, the Sixers will finish this season by making it to the playoffs and doing well, as it would get the younger guys some much needed experience. But, until then we need to see Markelle Fultz on the floor, less of Amir Johnson, More Holmes, and a little better coaching from Brett Brown. Also, maybe, just maybe, Ben Simmons takes a jump shot. While he doesn’t need to, it would be nice to see.
Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports