After the final buzzer, I stared at a blank Word document for several painful minutes, unsure what to say about this loss. It was the third of its kind this week and the sixteenth defeat in as many games this season. For the third time in five days, the Sixers led in the final three minutes of a game, and like in the team’s previous two losses the offense went cold late in Wednesday’s 84-80 loss.
The Sixers led from the 10:03 mark of the second quarter and saw their lead max out at 11 with 6:16 left to play. But over the next five-and-a-half minutes, Philadelphia turned the ball over four times and went 1-for-7 from the floor, eventually losing the lead with 49 seconds left after a wide-open three by Jae Crowder. After forcing a turnover trailing by two with 11 seconds to go, Brett Brown broke up a potential fastbreak opportunity by calling a timeout so he could draw up a final play. He intended to get Jahlil Okafor a look out of a pick-and-roll, but the Celtics defended it well and Phil Pressey was forced to hoist up a floater with two seconds left that was off the mark.
The struggles of Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor to adjust to life in the same frontcourt is a topic that has been beaten to death on Twitter and on this site, but tonight only added fuel to that fire. It seemed like Coach Brown made an effort to keep the two separated as much as possible against the Celtics, but the reality is that with only 48 minutes to work with there’s not all that much he can do. Noel and Okafor both deserve to play 30+ minutes every night, not only because they are the two most promising young players on the team but also because they are two of their best players right now. Here’s how his rotation bore out for the two Wednesday night…
Noel and Okafor on/off tonight Together: 22:01 (-20) Jah Alone: 15:13 (+16) Nerlens Alone: 10:26 (+1)— Max Rappaport (@MaxRappaport) November 26, 2015
The two were on the floor together for all but 21 seconds of the Sixers’ collapse in the final six minutes of the game. And Okafor attempted just one shot during that stretch, an and-1 bucket with 2:50 left to extend the Sixers’ lead to 80-75. Philadelphia wouldn’t score again.
Turnovers have killed the Sixers in recent games, but in Wednesday’s game it looked as if the team had finally gotten that under control. They coughed the ball up just four times in the first half, but the team committed 15 in the second half, including two in the final minute that put the game away.
- Jahlil Okafor notched 19 points (7/17 FG, 5/5 FT), nine rebounds, and four blocks in 36 minutes. In the Sixers’ last three games, he’s averaged 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game, and in his last 10 games he’s averaged 9.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. This comes after opening the year averaging 5.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in his first six outings.
- The Sixers were without Nik Stauskas, who suffered a knee contusion against the Timberwolves on Monday. He’s expected to miss the final two games of the Sixers’ six-game road trip.
- In Stauskas’ place, the Sixers started Isaiah Canaan at shooting guard. They also re-inserted Robert Covington back into the starting lineup in place of Jerami Grant.
- Covington struggled from the floor against the Celtics, making just four of his 16 shots and going 2-for-8 from deep, but he pulled down a career-high 14 boards to go along with 11 points, six steals, and two blocks. More importantly, he logged a season-high 35 minutes.
- The Sixers did a good tweet.
- And unfortenately, Bill Simmons tweeted too…
Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) November 26, 2015
YEAH! WE BEAT THE SIXERS!!!!!!!— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) November 26, 2015
Happy Thanksgiving, guys!