76ers drop third straight game with another miserable finish in Detroit, 102-94 final
We have a major issue brewing in Philadelphia. The 76ers simply cannot finish basketball games. Last night, the Sixers were in Detroit to face the 20-win Pistons and yet again, came up incredibly short in the fourth quarter, scoring just 15 points to Detroit’s 29. It was a gutless, soft showing from a finals contending team that would be ramping up for the playoffs.
Doc Rivers’ game plan and offensive scheme (if you can call it that) is so cut and dry, hoping Joel Embiid and James Harden isolations will be the only reliable source of scoring. Between his refusal to play anyone under 30 off the bench and his down right appalling lack of creativity as a coach, it’s hard to imagine this team getting over their coaches shortcomings.
I understand that this is just one game, but there are too many examples of this type of performances during Rivers’ tenure here. It’s disappointing to see this game and use it as a reference to the playoffs, but having such a pitiful bench unit and a complete lack of coaching competence will lead to another bone crushing loss in the postseason this year.
We can blame Doc Rivers all we want, but at the end of the day, the 76ers need to figure out how to close out games. There’s no excuse for letting the Pistons hang 29 on you while you only manage to score 15 points in the final frame. The defense was basically non-existent and almost every shot from Detroit was uncontested.
No Help for Embiid
Embiid scored nearly 40% of the 76ers 94 total points last night, finishing the night with 37 points and 15 rebounds on 11-of-19 shooting.
While he was incredible again tonight, the offense relies so heavily on his ability to create his own offense that it can hinder the flow of the offense. It’s a paradox because without his isolation production the offense would fall into the abyss, but they are so uncreative in the way that they get him the ball that they end up running 20 seconds off of the shot clock and force a bad shot.
Regardless, Embiid carried this offense and they let him down again. The final run that the Pistons went on started when Embiid was off the court, and it just continues to show his importance to this team.
James Harden Struggles
After a strong performance on Tuesday night, Harden laid an egg in Detroit and appeared to be nursing an injury throughout the game which is obviously concerning. Harden ended the night with 18 points on a miserable 4-of-15 shooting performance.
Even with his recent struggles, specifically in the fourth quarter, Harden is still very capable of scoring and facilitating at an elite level, but he has to continue to find the right balance between the two and that seems to be where he struggles the most. Harden will bounce back, and with it he will hopefully bring the rest of the offense with him.
Nonexistent Bench Unit
Another recurring segment in my pissed off recaps is about the miserable 76ers bench. Philadelphia was outscored in bench points by a wide margin of 39-8 in this game and the lack of offensive output outside of the top four players on this team is scary for the future.
Shake Milton and Georges Niang each had three points and Deandre Jordan managed to bring home one bucket in his minutes. They do a terrible job of implementing these guys into the game and the only time they have found a rhythm this season is when they platoon in and play as a whole unit.
That falls on Doc Rivers, but at this point it all does. This bench unit needs to find a way to step up, and there needs to be more opportunities for guys outside of Milton and Jordan.
It is a really sad night when the Sixers not only lose to the Detroit Pistons, but when they do it at full strength in the final stretch of the season. This was literally the worst loss of the season, and they have just six games remaining to figure themselves out after dropping three straight.
Philadelphia stays on the road and takes a trip to Charlotte to take on the Hornets on Saturday night. The Sixers have won two of three matchups against the Hornets this season, with Charlotte taking the most recent game in January.
Mandatory Credit: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
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