Player of the Game
Joel Embiid – 36 points 13 rebounds and 10/10 FT
We’re three games into the 2019-20 season and for the third game in a row, the Sixers came out sluggish. Joel Embiid coming off a high ankle sprain was just not quite himself and the defense was uncharacteristically soft.
Unable to solve Trae Young, the Sixers started the game giving up points in bunches. Allowing the Hawks to shoot lights out from beyond the three-point arc, the Sixers seemed to have no answer for the Atlanta offense.
As Embiid’s ankle loosened, the defense of the Sixers began to tighten up, helping to close the scoring gap but without the three-ball, could the Sixers catch up. Thankfully, just when it seemed impossible, the Sixers began hitting shots from three but still struggled to stay out of their own way.
Turnovers quickly became an issue for the Sixers though, which unfortunately is not uncommon. The Sixers ended the half with 10 total turnovers. But the tide was about to turn thanks to an inexplicable foul call.
The Rodney Mott incident
Under two minutes to go in the half and Mike Scott fouls Damien Jones hard in transition earning a flagrant foul. It would have been understandable to call a flagrant one but instead, Rodney Mott decided to rule the foul a flagrant two. For those who don’t know, a flagrant one results in two free-throws and the ball, while a flagrant two results in the same and in addition the guilty party is ejected and fined.
Let me speak to this briefly, this decision showed Mott’s inability to perform the job he’s been tasked with. To consider this foul a flagrant two shows that he is ignorant of the rules he’s tasked to know. The NBA needs to solve its ref problem. LET THEM PLAY BASKETBALL.
Back to work
In the minute plus following Scott’s ejection, the Sixers began to ramp up their intensity. They ended the half playing the type of ball they want to, finishing down only two after starting the quarter down nine. Joel Embiid was a primary contributor to this.
For all the work the Sixers had done to climb back into the game, they quickly gave up two buckets. Coach Brett Brown quickly called a timeout one minute into the half after this poor performance.
The Sixers came out of the timeout looking more like themselves and then something magical happened. Joel Embiid broke out his patented pump-fake and drove to the rack unleashing all he had against John Collins. Afterward, Joel hit Collins with the “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” leading to a technical foul. Thankfully simultaneously, Trae Young was also called for a technical foul causing them to offset.
Soon the Sixers began to fall into old habits turning the ball over far too frequently. Missed shot, missed shot, turnover, the Sixers were not playing the brand of basketball they aim for.
Settling for difficult jumpers, the Sixers weren’t making it easy for themselves. The referee crew was admittedly ignoring contact in the post for the Sixers but when that happens you need to force their hands not force shots.
As the third quarter came to a close we saw Furkan Korkmaz come down with a much-needed rebound. With time left for a shot Korkmaz began to dribble… and dribble… trying to be the hero, Korkmaz made sure the ball stayed in his hands long enough to ensure that a poor shot with no chance was taken.
Play continued to be sloppy on both ends for both teams. Many fans watching the game were wondering, where is Tobias Harris? He was on the court but unable to get his shot to fall leaving the Sixers without much offense with Josh Richardson and Joel Embiid were on the bench.
As the final three minutes approached, Joel Embiid demanded the ball down low against Alex Len. Embiid had his way to pull his team within one. Battling back and forth the Sixers and Hawks fought for possession and buckets.
After being a near non-factor for most of the game? Tobias Harris came alive at the perfect time nailing a two-point bucket with just over 30 seconds left. Following a Josh Richardson block, the Sixers drained the clock as best they could until the ball eventually returned to the Atlanta Hawks who were down three with under 10 seconds left. Atlanta called time and started prepping their last-ditch effort to tie or win.
Inbounding the ball to Trea Young he was quickly fouled by Joel Embiid. Young hit the first free-throw and missed the second which was tipped in by John Collins after Al Horford and Tobias Harris neglected to box out.
7.4 seconds left, the Sixers looked to inbound the ball and the thought in everyone’s mind was can they get the ball to Embiid. 5.3 seconds left Joel Embiid at the line and he does what he does, nailing both free throws.
Final seconds of the game the Hawks get the ball to NBA legend Vince Carter. Carter did all he could to sink the game-winner jacking up a three in the final seconds. The shot went up and all you could do is hold your breath. All you could hear was your thoughts until that final buzzer went off. Carter’s shot was off and the Sixers won! A game you never had a good feeling about they found a way to win and remain undefeated.
Embiid is MVP
Joel Embiid is clearly the most valuable player on this team. You can easily see the rise and fall in the entire team based on his performance.
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers
The Sixers turned the ball over 21 times tonight, far too many for an NBA Finals hopeful. This is nothing new for the Sixers, for years they’ve struggled with turnovers and you have to wonder what adjustments Coach Brown will make to avoid this continuing.
Furkan Korkmaz, frankly, is terrible. Since he came into the league Korkmaz has thought of himself akin to Kobe Bryant when in reality, he is questionably an NBA talent. The Sixers must move on from him and look for a different option.
Next game up
The Sixers will host Karl Anthony-Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves this Wednesday, October 30th at 7:00 PM. A matchup of two of the best Centers plus the return of Robert Covington means this game a must-watch. What do you think the Sixers must do to get the win on Wednesday?
Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports