2 issues the 76ers need to fix before Game Two tomorrow night
Although there were things out of the 76ers’ control during yesterday’s loss, including the Hawks’ incredible shooting from three and horrendous refereeing, they still shot themselves in the foot. There were numerous mistakes that led to the 128-124 loss, but the good news is these issues can get cleaned up before tomorrow night.
The biggest issue for the Sixers was how they guarded Trae Young during the first half. It looked like the plan was to keep Ben and Matisse away from Trae until the second half to avoid getting in foul trouble. So in their place was veteran Danny Green. Yesterday wasn’t the best game for Green. While he helped out late with a huge steal to give the 76ers a shot to win, he made some huge mistakes early on.
Putting Green on Young isn’t the worst decision for what they had in mind, but it didn’t work out whatsoever. On numerous possessions, Danny left the ground on pump fakes allowing Trae to lean into him for the foul. Green had four fouls to finish the night, and it took way too long for Doc to adjust for this issue.
The culminating event was late in the fourth quarter when Trae brought the ball up court, letting it roll for 18 seconds. Instead of pressing Trae and making him pick up the ball, Green just let him take his time while Joel Embiid screamed at him twice before it was too late. While you could argue he was worried about being baited into a foul, he could’ve at least gotten closer and made Trae pick up the ball quicker.
There was a night and day difference when Matisse and Ben took over defending duties in the second half for the 76ers. The cheap fouls aren’t going to go away, so an adjustment needs to be made. Personally, I would substitute Danny for Matisse and stagger him and Ben against Trae and put Danny on him for a few minutes in-between. Trae flops a lot but not enough to put both defenders in serious foul trouble.
Guarding Trae wasn’t the only issue, though. The 76ers rotations were brutal against the Hawks. Doc Rivers ran an all-bench lineup that shot a phenomenal 0% from the floor while committing five turnovers. Doc has gone to this all-bench lineup consistently, and it has never worked for the Sixers.
The main reasoning behind it has to be giving up five minutes of play and allowing all your starters to rest. But with this being the playoffs, that has to change. Even having just one of the 76ers’ five starters on the floor would be a boost. Hopefully, Doc will realize the error of his ways and adjust ahead of game two tomorrow night.
Mandatory Credit: Matt Slocum