The Sixers built up goodwill in the first half of tonight’s game, playing Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid together for the first time and looking like a competent basketball team taking a 13-point lead, only to completely deflate all optimism and destroy any good feelings by giving up 70 points in an embarrassing second half display in a 123-116 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Friday night.
Joel Embiid scored 27 points in his 28 allotted minutes, but it didn’t matter in the win-loss column. Phoenix scored 42 fourth quarter points primarily through running pick and rolls every possession. I’m sure you can guess who spent the majority of the time defending the paint. Anyway, let’s check in on what everyone thought about that quarter and what happened:
@Liberty_Ballers okafor haunted by Ghost of Christmas Pick and Roll Defense— St. Niklaus (@ngatt1) December 24, 2016
@Liberty_Ballers Defense when Embiid is not on the floor.— Brandon Silverman (@BSilverman1992) December 24, 2016
@Liberty_Ballers Half the game is defen- ha ha ha ha *cries*— Framed Ace (@Framed_Ace) December 24, 2016
@Liberty_Ballers I hope Markelle Fultz likes cheesesteaks.— حرر عائلتي (@QGotNoRings) December 24, 2016
Yikes! Let’s not speak of this 76ers loss again, even if it’s good for Tank 4.0.
- Nerlens Noel played 10 minutes in the game due to early foul trouble for Jahlil Okafor, and for the first time Noel and Embiid played together. It went moderately well - the defense looked promising, and while I’m not optimistic for that to be more than an effective change of pace lineup, it has to be used more going onward.
- I still believe in Eric Bledsoe: superstar. At 27 with an extensive injury history, he’s probably what he is, but he should be a more important piece for a better team in another universe. He finished with 24 efficient points and 11 assists.
- The Sixers did not commit a turnover in the first quarter. They committed 20 in the final three quarters - the Suns finished with 20 points on the break and off turnovers. They continue to be an issue, and make me think about the times when the Sixers ran an ultra-conservative offense with limited turnovers and *suffers a reflexive Doug Collins-induced stroke*.
- The Suns outrebounded the Sixers by 15, which included the Suns rebounding more than a third of their missed shots. They hit more than half of their shots. Hard to win when you’re both (1) not forcing misses and (2) not rebounding those rare misses.
- Dario Saric continued to primarily play small forward; he managed only 8 points on 10 shots. Ilyasova had a productive game if you discount his five turnovers.
- Nik Stauskas missed the game with a knee contusion, and weirdly the Sixers really could have used him. The Sixers struggled to create (non-Embiid edition), especially in the second half, and Hollis Thompson and Robert Covington were put in position to need to create offense - something they’re both very limited in doing. Thompson managed just a single three point attempt in 22 minutes, and Covington missed all but one of his six attempts. The Sixers have the lethal combination of poor shot creation and massive turnover numbers. As one of our followers said before, I do hope Markelle Fultz likes cheesesteaks. Maybe Ben Simmons too.