5 Takeaways from the Sixers Worst Loss of the Season
Joel Embiid Had His Worst Game of His Playoff Career.
No, I’m not going to sit here and slander one of the best players of the 2020-21 season. What I am going to do is look at Joel’s play objectively. From that viewpoint, there is no beating around the bush here, Embiid had a terrible game on Monday, particularly offensively. Yes, grabbing 21 boards in any game is insane and Embiid deserves all credit for that. However going 0-12 from the field in the second half, including missing a pretty open go-ahead layup at the end of the game, is bad.
Embiid finished the game with 17 points, with nearly half of those points coming from the free-throw line. Joel Embiid is an other-worldly talent, but even he is prone to off nights. I’m also positive his knee was acting up for game three, evident by the fact he went back to the locker room early in the contest. Bottom line is, we all should address his performance as a one-off, and get ready for game five back in Philly where Embiid will remind all the twitter casuals who he really is.
The Sixers Took Their Foot Off the Gas, Again.
I should’ve known a game like this was coming, but hindsight is always 20/20. One of the more alarming tropes of the Sixers was their tendency to relax too much with big leads early in games. Usually the starters would wake up by the fourth and save the Sixers from being on the other side of a great comeback.
Unfortunately, the starters failed to rescue the team on Monday. Game four saw the Sixers take the lead early in the first quarter, up 14-12 with just four minutes to go in the first. Philly would go on to hold the lead for the next two quarters, at one point holding an 18-point lead over the Hawks. That lead would slowly be chipped away at, and the start of the fourth saw the Hawks take the lead back up 83-82. With Joel playing his worst half of basketball, and the Sixers not taking care of the ball late, the Hawks were able to steal a game Philly had in their grasp.
Furkan Korkmaz Should Continue to Start in Green’s Absence.
The biggest debate coming into game three revolved around who would take the starting spot in place of the injured Danny Green. With endless twitter polls from every Sixer fan, many decided on Furkan Korkmaz. I will admit I was skeptical, while Furk is a viable three point threat and has shown great offensive ability this season, his defense is still a work in progress. I was happily proven wrong in the contest, as Furkan showed he’s made great strides on the other side of the court. Furk did a good job fighting over screens and holding his own on switches early in the contest. In one instance Korkmaz had to switch onto Trae Young and came up with a block, one of two he had in the contest. Sixers fans don’t need to deal with another JJ Redick situation where Philly is starting a great shooter who’s a defensive liability, and Furkan showed in game three that shouldn’t be the case. If he can continue to play a more complete game in the starting small forward role, I see no reason he doesn’t start every game going forward.
The Fourth Quarter Execution from the Sixers was Terrible.
The fourth quarter was full of blunders, missed shots, and questionable offensive sets from both teams. One of the most intriguing developments of the fourth revolved around the Hawks foul trouble. Like I pointed out on twitter during the game, the Hawks racked up three fouls within the first two minutes of the quarter. With the game back and fourth with constant lead changes, I was hoping to see the Sixers attack the basket constantly to get free shots from the stripe.
To my dismay, the Sixers got soft and didn’t get to the bonus until the four minute mark in the final quarter. The offensive sets looked sloppy, and guys were constantly falling back on contested outside shots and fadeaway jump shots. One of the most physical teams, that relies heavily on scoring in the paint and inside-out offense did nothing with Atlanta in foul trouble early in the quarter. The Sixers went away from their offensive style, and it showed with an 18-point fourth and narrow loss.
Seth Curry Continues to Perform in the Shadows.
After such a painful loss, let’s end on a happier note. The biggest silver lining from game four in my opinion was the play of Seth Curry. Like I talked about in my takeaways from the Sixers series clinching win over the Wizards, Seth Curry has shown a new side to his offense in the playoffs. Curry’s newfound confidence to take the ball off the dribble is paying its dividends for both his game and the overall Sixers offense.
Curry finished the night with 17 points on an efficient 7-10 shooting from the floor. While six of those shots were from three, only half of them came in catch-and-shoot scenarios. While Seth’s new offensive prowess isn’t enough to lift the Sixers to a win with Embiid struggling, it is great to see consistency with this new slasher style play from Curry.
Mandatory Credit: Yong Kim.