76ers Week in Review: Stopping History, Glimpses of Peak Embiid, and More.
In this first installation of 76ers week in review, I’m going to be giving a general breakdown of the past week of 76ers basketball, along with catching up on any rumors surrounding the team. This will be a written form of the recaps myself and James Biranne do for Process to Progress, check out the latest episode here.
Looking back on the past seven days the 76ers have played four games in that window ending with an even 2-2 record. With wins in Charlotte against the Hornets and at home against Golden State and losses at home against the Jazz and on the road against the Grizzlies, a couple themes are emerging for this team. The 76ers tackle a huge part of their western conference opponents going up against the first, third, and fourth seed, able to claim one win against the three. With that the 76ers wrap up their season series against both the Jazz and Warriors, with a game at home against Memphis still.
Embiid’s Dominance Leads to 76ers Wins
When reviewing the two wins for the 76ers and comparing them to the losses, it is not hard to figure out the driving force behind this Sixers squad winning games, Joel Embiid. Against the Hornets on Wednesday Embiid dropped 32 points by getting back to completely dominating the paint. Embiid’s game will always feature jump shots from honestly all over the court, but his true peak form is when he can get anything inside. Despite only shooting 8-of-17 in that game, he got to the free throw line 19 times, sinking 15 of them. Joel is at his best when he can get shots inside by being a dominant big, then moving to hitting outside shots.
The Warriors game saw much of the same for Embiid. Statistically he shot 43-percent from the field, but was able to reach the free-throw line 11 times and drain every shot. This game for the 76ers also showed Embiid’s clutch ability really shining as well. In fact, Embiid is the current leader in points scored in the clutch with 66. Joel has also taken the most shots and free-throws during this window. Against the Warriors, Joel scored nine of the teams final 15 points in the clutch to close out the Warriors.
Thybulle’s Defensive Masterclass
While Embiid certainly makes or breaks the 76ers ability to win during this past week, there were a couple of guys that stepped up to help. One that is on everyone’s mind is Matisse Thybulle for his defense against the soon-to-be all-time leader in three pointers made, Steph Curry. Thybulle was able to hold Steph to just 6-of-20 shooting from the field, and an astonishing 3-of-14 from deep. That included two blocks of Steph’s three pointers, cementing Matisse in the history book once again for his defensive prowess as the only man to do that in a single game.
Two Ugly Losses against Premier Western Conference Teams
While upsetting the Warriors and keeping Joel Embiid undefeated against the Hornets was nice, the 76ers were absolutely demolished in their two losses this week. Both the Jazz and the Grizzlies held the Sixers to single digits while dropping about 120 points on Philly’s head. Combining both margins of loss for both games, the 76ers were outscored by 57 points. Embiid struggling mightily against the Jazz, and nobody was able to pick up offensively with him. Utah also came in as the hottest three-point shooting team this season and canned 15 on the Sixers heads. The Grizzlies game saw both Embiid and Seth sit, but also unmasked a huge problem for Philly so far this season..
Tobias Harris Continues to Disappoint
After the Grizzlies loss, Tobias Harris has now played six games without Joel Embiid on the court with him. In those games, Harris is now 1-5. Against Memphis, Tobias only scored 12 points shooting 5-of-12 from the field and missing just two three-point attempts. In a game where about 20 shots came off the court with Embiid resting, Tobias was outscored by Tyrese and Charles Bassey. While Harris is averaging nearly 19-points a game on a bit less efficient shooting, the problem lies in the fact he’s being paid more than Embiid currently. Harris is being paid like a championship caliber team’s number two option, and in reality he has played far below that standard.
Read more about Tobias Harris’ struggles here.
Play of the Week
With all that negativity out of the way, let’s finish this week’s review with some amazing highlights from the 76ers this past week. While the Thybulle block of Steph’s three point attempts is certainly a sight to behold, Sixers fans have known for awhile how good Matisse is at blocking outside shots. The fact it is against one of the greatest shooters of all time helps, but for pure highlight value, it comes in second. Give me point-center Joel Embiid taking the ball 90-feet into a Euro-step slam against the Hornets, something no other 7-footer in the association can do.
Mandatory Credit: Tim Nwachukwu