The Philadelphia 76ers were riding high after back-to-back wins against the LA Lakers and the Minnesota Timberwolves. That was the case anyway until they went up against the Indiana Pacers without star Joel Embiid.
Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris came out aggressive, but the rest of the team failed to follow. There just wasn’t much there, offensively or defensively.
By the third quarter, the game looked lost, and there wasn’t a single thing the Sixers could do right…or so it seemed.
Without Embiid down-low, the Pacers had their way, with the Sixers’ defense scoring 58 points in the paint. The defense was like a revolving door allowing players to walk right in until the fourth quarter, that is.
Doc Rivers switched up the gameplan, and the Sixers went to a zone defense, which changed the entire tide of the game. Domantas Sabonis could no longer have his way, and the Pacers struggled to score in the paint after the switch.
The defensive improvement was matched by an offensive explosion by Furkan Korkmaz, scoring nine points in the quarter.
There is a lot of credit to go around for this win, but Doc Rivers deserves more than any.
His decision to switch to a 2-3 zone changed the outcome of this game. If anything, it’s an adjustment that should have been made awhile ago. It just makes so much sense on paper.
It’s the perfect way to have both Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle, two of the best team defenders in the NBA, on the court at the same time. It also allows Dwight Howard to roam as a shot-blocker.
This adjustment allowed the Sixers to finally win a game without Joel Embiid, and that cannot be overstated.
What’s Next For The Philadelphia 76ers?
The Sixers will have a couple of days off to rest after this come-from-behind win. They’ve earned it after this comeback.
The win aside, the team looked lost until the fourth quarter. They can’t play like this going forward, and the idea of Joel Embiid sitting is one that won’t go away anytime soon.
While Embiid will likely play Wednesday, it’s not a guarantee, and regardless, the team has to be ready to go without him.
With the Portland Trail Blazers and Brooklyn Nets coming up near the end of the week, Wednesday night’s game against the Charlotte Hornets is all the more important.
Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire