July 6, 2022

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Snapshot Observations: Sixers lose to Raptors staff they might see in playoffs

The Sixers fell to the Raptors 119-114 of their final highway recreation of the yr, leaving the door open for a possible sequence with Toronto in simply over per week. Given how they’ve appeared on the final two conferences, that doesn’t look like a great state of affairs for Philly.

Here’s what I noticed.

Good

• I don’t know if Daryl Morey received “3 > 2” tattooed on his brow, I don’t know if Doc Rivers out of the blue feels a bit of extra urgency with job rumors going round, I don’t know if it’s merely an aberration that may fade within the playoffs. However the Sixers upping their quantity by three factors within the remaining days of the common season might be the most important story of the previous week.

Tobias Harris’ change of strategy does the heavy lifting there, and it helps that he’s shot basketball properly since James Harden joined the staff. In opposition to the Raptors Thursday evening, Harris continued his current pattern of rapidly offloading catch-and-shoot makes an attempt, whether or not they got here on a swing cross in a half-court set or a glance in transition, punishing the Raptors for the to have misplaced because the groups went. finish to finish. He’s a assured shooter proper now, and who might blame him? Harris has a terrific eye to the basket and he’s having fun with the eye on Joel Embiid and James Harden. They wanted extra from him after a sizzling begin, clearly, however he’s stepping into the fitting route.

Tyrese Maxey, however, didn’t actually need a lot assist to peek for the basket, his confidence off the dribble persevering with to rise as he places the exclamation mark on a superb second season. There have been ups and downs not too long ago as with all shooter, however the backside line is that Maxey has stored coming evening after evening, committing to his function as an outdoor menace. Maxey taking part in his half helps clear the center of the ground for everybody, and as you may see in a recreation towards Toronto, each inch of floor is effective.

A number of the strikes Maxey can throw at guys now are simply plain particular, or at the least they’d be if Maxey wasn’t knocking them out week after week, recreation after recreation. Hit a crossover in a pull-up three? Straightforward cash nowadays:

He has a reasonably stable case as probably the most harmful perimeter scorer at this level, given Harden’s seen lack of burst. When the Sixers appeared completely useless within the water within the fourth quarter, it wasn’t Embiid or Harden who received them again, it was the No. 0, who used his velocity and contact everywhere in the flooring to proceed a person scoring run that introduced them inside hanging distance.

They’re going to wish his best possible to make the playoffs.

• I’m considerably skeptical of Shake Milton as a pure catch-and-shoot man – he’s all the time appeared extra snug in a combo guard function than he doesn’t play a lot with this group anymore – however he has been a great set off the bench the final two video games. If he can knock down pictures with any consistency, that makes second unit minutes rather less scary.

Elsewhere within the depth division, it was awkward for round 90 seconds with Danny Inexperienced in Matisse Thybulle’s beginning spot, then the veteran winger managed to tug away, settling in from his hit spot within the nook. As soon as he noticed one go down early, he didn’t must assume twice for the remainder of the sport, hoisting himself up every time he had even a sliver of daylight on the perimeter. . His legs aren’t what they was, and he can’t be trusted to tackle high-level missions on protection, however when he begins rolling he can nonetheless rock a recreation along with his shot. Or on this case, maintain the Sixers in a recreation along with his shot.

There’s not a lot to research right here besides to say that in the event that they get any actual three-and-D contributions from Inexperienced within the playoffs, they’re a distinct staff. He opens the sphere in a approach that Matisse Thybulle by no means will, and he’s been by means of a ton of playoff wars, if the ring he acquired in Toronto on Thursday wasn’t a ok reminder of that reality.

• Joel Embiid has had nightmarish video games towards the Toronto Raptors over time. Early on, there have been occasions when he overdid it for the large man, and I don’t blame him with the adjustment interval it’s a must to undergo to play towards the Raptors. They gave him every kind of appears, dealing with him, passing him and making an attempt to squeeze him between gamers of comparable dimension, all to maintain him off steadiness lengthy sufficient to sluggish him down. It labored early on, however ultimately the large man would discover a workable repertoire, although admittedly fairly good, reasonably than nice.

If something, the Sixers in all probability wanted to do extra pick-and-roll involving Embiid and Harden, as most of their finest offense got here when these two operated collectively in midfield. It’s one thing that falls on each of them – Embiid must search for that as an alternative of lingering contained in the arc, and Harden wants to have the ability to beat the switches if groups determine to make use of that technique towards him/her.

The unhealthy

• The Sixers simply can’t maintain getting bombarded when Embiid hits the bench. I get that he’s a tricky man to switch, I get that they’ve sub-optimal choices to play minutes at heart when he’s sitting out, however there’s no approach they’re drowning towards groups when it’s faraway from the bottom. They’ve sufficient expertise exterior of Embiid to carry their very own and even thrive in these minutes.

It’s all going to have to start out with Harden, whose methodical tempo mixed along with his diminishing aim manufacturing places him in an odd place as chief from the bench. The flexibility to only carry the assault on his personal hasn’t been there, his lack of high-end burst stopping him from punishing gamers in isolation like he used to. It’s not a huge drawback with Embiid on the bottom (though it’s nonetheless an issue), nevertheless it does develop into a lot larger when the staff is handed over to Harden and he spends many of the shot clock with the ball in his palms.

Frankly, I’d say the Sixers’ greatest enemy in bench minutes Thursday was a easy three-point variance. The Raptors canned some completely ridiculous pictures and fired up Valuable Achiuwa on an surprising heat-up within the first half of Thursday’s recreation, together with a shot with him falling off the basket late within the clock that you would solely elevate the bucks to. shoulders. However they haven’t helped one another a lot both, with Harden on the heart of powerful defensive streaks. When Danny Inexperienced was referred to as for a foul after timing a shooter at a fence, he instantly rotated and appeared to have a phrase with Harden, who tried a reasonably pointless change as an alternative of hanging on to Malachi Flynn.

With the Sixers being a bit unfold out on protection in Harden-led minutes with out Embiid, that’s what you’d anticipate. It’s far more essential that they appear determined on offense for lots of these stretches, which poorly displays the man operating the present. If he was something near the man who gained an MVP award as soon as upon a time, they’d be slaughtering groups in these minutes. They don’t even come shut.

It’s actually onerous to make sense of the entire Harden bundle. You possibly can nonetheless see genius-level passes seem, with Harden nonetheless capable of spray the ball to the ground for open pictures even when he proves unable to get previous anybody. However that lack of ability to get together with guys form of devalues ​​the entire Harden expertise. The blokes block him after which block him on the sting of isolation with none kind of off-ball assist. This may have appeared nearly unimaginable a couple of years in the past. And whereas an offseason of additional relaxation and rebuilding energy would possibly do him good, it gained’t save Philadelphia in time for a playoff run, the place Harden’s excessive workload will solely develop.

• This match is an effective instance of why I’m a bit involved that Georges Niang is one among their most essential gamers in a playoff sequence. He had nowhere to cover in defence, and whereas I don’t blame him for being on an entire listing of gamers to be cooked by Pascal Siakam, he’s significantly overwhelmed.

• Mainly, the Sixers are going to must assume lengthy and onerous about how they need Embiid to assault the Raptors in the event that they draw them right into a playoff sequence. Making an attempt to get the ball to him on the nail to let him function doesn’t appear to do a lot for him in comparison with video games towards different opponents. Toronto can dig in on him with their size with out straying too removed from their perimeter clashes, forcing Embiid to play into or by means of a crowd to be able to get the place he needs to go.

Coping with the strain was a blended bag for Embiid on Thursday, and he generally received himself into hassle by dribbling a bit of an excessive amount of with the Toronto invading him in the midst of the ground. A few of his finest possessions haven’t ended with him ending performs, however throwing overhand passes for crossover assists to the fellows within the nook. Shake Milton was the beneficiary of some of these performs, ready with open arms as Embiid used Toronto strain towards them.

Preserving him in that mentality goes to be vital towards loads of the most effective defenses within the playoffs. Embiid wants to remain centered on good performs and never all the time throw the cape in an try and be the hero.

The ugly one

• Hats off to Pascal Siakam after this efficiency. The Sixers usually did every part they might to maintain him from getting good spots, and he hit powerful jumper after powerful jumper anyway. Nothing you are able to do.

• Few make-up calls have been extra apparent than the one which went towards Embiid halfway by means of the third quarter. A minimum of to strive to disguise it, man.

• To his credit score, Doc Rivers gave Paul Reed an opportunity to play the backup heart minutes towards an opponent the place he kinda is smart as their possibility there. Toronto is an extended, athletic staff that kills you with exercise, and Reed suits into that type of play when linked.

Narrator: He wasn’t referred to as to start out his case on Thursday.

He appeared identical to a younger, inexperienced participant with a bit of an excessive amount of power in a uncommon place to play, falling on offensive possession and dribbling the ball from a Raptors participant within the backcourt for an avoidable turnover. However Reed was capable of get well, utilizing his exercise to seize a couple of offensive rebounds, one among which he was one and one to the delight of his teammates.

The problem is much less about Reed and extra about placing himself in a state of affairs the place he hasn’t eradicated his nervousness throughout regular recreation time. I actually don’t know and I can’t say if Reed shall be playable within the playoffs, and that’s one thing we should always have. some sense of now.

• The excellent news for the Sixers is that they might must face this staff within the playoffs following the loss. Oh wait, that’s not excellent news in any respect.


Observe Kyle on Twitter: @KyleNeubeck

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