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Sixers look to put game 2 disaster behind them and turn this series around

Down but not technically not out, Sixers had better regroup in a hurry

Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics - Game Two Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

“When I’m counting up my demons

Saw there was one for every day

With the good ones on my shoulder

I drove the other ones away

If you ever feel neglected

If you think all is lost

I’ll be counting up my demons yeah

Hoping everything’s not lost”

— Coldplay

Congrats to you if you’re reading this. You have an optimistic and patient nature that your friends and loved ones undoubtedly draw inspiration and comfort from. You have the indomitable spirit of a warrior. No matter what life throws at you, you take a deep breath, you plan your day, and you take on whatever may come next with an open mind and an open heart. The Sixers got smoked in game 2, the wheels came off, and it was one of those “how did we get here” days of reckoning for so many of us. But here you are, bright and early to read this godforsaken game preview! Incredible. From all of us at Liberty Ballers, thanks. We tip our caps to your eternal sunshine, a glowing hearth surrounded by wilderness, darkness, and the lonely frost of defeat.

Believe it or not, there is basketball to analyze.

Brett Brown, being foisted onto the proverbial gangplank, may be tempted to float away from the moment, to remember the pain, the grind, the innocence of the early process days, to relive his first conversations with Robert Covington or Joel Embiid, or shake his head at how the beginning of the 2017-2018 season, the first “real” season he had to coach winning hoops, still feels at once so near, so fresh, so tangible, and yet also like several lifetimes ago. Achey nostalgia could easily begin to seep in and distract from the task at hand. But alas, there’s a job to fight for. A series to be won. Pull-ups to contest. Deep-drop coverages to analyze, top-lock strategies to double check, new ways to pump oxygen back into Tobias Harris. And new ways to unlock Joel Embiid’s dominance that might better help his teammates capitalize on all of the attention the fleet-footed beast commands.

There are things to build on, both in the immediate and well into the future that offer hope for a better tomorrow, both literally and figuratively.

It’s possible that there may be suboptimal strategies being employed that need a little bit of tweaking:

Then again there are process-oriented counter-narratives to consider: perhaps our strategy was smart but simply did not work, like hitting on a 16 when the dealer draws a 7 at the blackjack table. It’s a crummy situation (without Ben Simmons) you usually lose so your gut screams stand, even though you’re strategy to hit is prudent. Maybe it’s still the best path moving forward to minimize the pain:

As always Joel Embiid needs some help. This series he’s averaging 30 points per game, 13 rebounds, 12.5 free throw attempts per game, 1 steal, 1 block, 2 assists, at 52.8% from the field. He’s the real deal. But he’s not enough.

Josh Richardson has stepped up. He’s averaging 18 points and 50% from 3, with fierce perimeter defense but his decision making and vision are limited in important ways. Tobias Harris hasn’t been good enough. Rook Matisse Thybulle has shown real promise, even though Jayson Tatum hits every shot he takes. Sort of like how Ben Simmons displayed real promise while defending Kawhi Leonard in the playoffs last year, even though Leonard too hit every shot he took. But look how Ben blossomed defensively the following season! Thybulle fans should be very excited with how his on-ball defense (at times a weakness) has appeared on one of the game’s best perimeter threats (I know it hurts to write as much as it did to read even for your unconquerable positivity). His on-ball defense hasn’t always been a strength, but he continues to shine in new ways defensively.

Maybe none of the players are flipping chairs over, but I know some of us fans are.

Tune in for game 3 tonight at 6:30 if your indomitable spirit is still intact this evening. If we steal game 3, then we might have some momentum for the fake home game of game four. Then watch, everyone else without your inner Zen will be back to join us too. Fair weather Philadelphia warriors that they are.

Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics, Game 3

Where: ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Orlando, FL (The Bubble)

When: 6:30pm ET

Watch: TNT, NBC Sports Philadelphia

Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic

Follow: @Liberty_Ballers

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