48.1% at the rim: The Sixers struggled to convert shots all game long, even the easy ones. According to Cleaning The Glass, Philly finished just 48.1% of their shots at the rim (13/27) — that’s dreadful. For comparison, Cleaning The Glass had the Raptors making 76.5% of their shots at the rim in Game 4. There are three main culprits for the Sixers’ pathetic conversion rate in close:
- Ben Simmons, who missed gimmes such as this one:
- Tobias Harris, who just appears to lack creativity/maneuverability around the rim:
- Joel Embiid, whose sheer lack of field goal attempts meant a drop in team efficiency.
The Sixers are typically highly efficient around the bucket, finishing the regular season with a FG% of 65.8% on all shots within four feet of the rim. So as far as the lousy performance in Game 4 goes, you’d expect them to improve with some simple positive regression. But it also makes the loss sting a little more when you consider the Raptors margin of victory (five points). Had the Sixers converted at the rim at say 55% (still over 10 percentage points below their regular season mark), that alone would have given them four extra points.
26 FTA: The Toronto Raptors had more attempts from the free throw line (26) in Game 4 than they did in any other game this series (or even in these playoffs). To get a little more specific, Kawhi Leonard took 12 free throws — also a series high.
Could this be an indication that the Sixers are getting gassed on defense? Possibly, as Ben Simmons did look a bit off. But it also simply means that the Sixers gave away easy buckets to a team that was otherwise struggling to produce of late. Philly needs to be more disciplined and force the Raptors to create offense rather than bail them out.
-18 in 10 minutes: Look, I know all about the pitfalls of raw plus-minus. But in this case, it is merely supplemental evidence to what we saw. Greg Monroe struggled to provide anything that could be described as effective, and he was a -18 in just 10 minutes of play. Why this matters so much is because the Sixers are an entirely different team when Joel Embiid leaves the floor. Brett Brown knows this and we know this, it is not new. But Monroe had been contributing decent minutes in Jo’s absence, allowing the team to tread water when their star center needed a breather.
I’m not looking to drag Monroe, he’s been a pleasant surprise. But the Sixers need him to be better or they’ll need Mike Scott to step it up so they can play small ball when Embiid needs rest. A major advantage for the Sixers in this series has been in Kawhi-less minutes; Philly has absolutely blitzed the Raptors when Leonard leaves the floor. In Game 4, it was the Raptors who took advantage of the Sixers’ supertar-less minutes.
83.3 points per 100 plays: Talk about a stagnant offense, the Sixers scored in the halfcourt at a futile rate of just 83.3 points per 100 halfcourt plays. To complicate things for Philly, they were able to start plays from transition just 8.7% of the time. When you can’t score in the halfcourt AND you are unable to get out and run, well, that’s just a really simple recipe for failure.
Even if the Sixers can produce more transition opportunities, the Raptors are pretty effective defending in transition, so Philly needs to be more efficient in halfcourt sets. A more offensively engaged Joel Embiid will help there big time, so hopefully The Process is able to shake this illness and regain his form from Game 3. But it can’t be only Joel. Simmons has to continue to find ways to have purpose in the halfcourt and Tobias Harris... well he can’t go 7/23. Just cannot happen if the Sixers are to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Harris was brought to Philly in large part to get points; he needs to be a safety valve in the halfcourt, not a drag.