The Philadelphia 76ers played their most dreadful game of the 2018 season. After a decently played first quarter, the wheels fell off the bus and the Spurs blew the game wide open. The Sixers could not have played worse.
There is virtually nothing positive to take away from tonight’s game. The offense was woefully dull, and the defense was pathetic. The Philadelphia 76ers couldn’t throw a tennis ball in a hula hoop, and the Spurs surgically dismantled their defense.
Not a single Sixer played notably well. Joel Embiid registered 13 points, while trying to protect the rim with the porous perimeter defense in front of him. Embiid trying to man down the backline of the defense was like trying to extinguish a five-alarm fire with a water bottle.
Ben Simmons played well, but he should have asserted himself more when the offense was struggling. Jimmy Butler was uncharacteristically off shooting the ball, and his defense was deemphasized by the Spurs’ offensive onslaught.
The Spurs were firing on all cylinders offensively. They finished the night at 56 percent shooting, while also converting on all but one of their 17 free throw attempts. DeMar DeRozan was picking and choosing his spots and coasted to 20 points. LaMarcus Aldridge pick-and-popped his way to an easy 20 points, while also devouring the Sixers’ second unit. Rudy Gay was the high-scorer for San Antonio with an effortless 21 points, and Davis Bertans chipped in an efficient 16 points off the bench. You get what I’m aiming at here? Too easy.
The Spurs set the tone for their offense early. Their first three field goals were cakewalk mid-range shots, which would become a recurring theme throughout the game. The Spurs were getting any look they wanted, with little resistance.
The Spurs throttled the Sixers, but the Sixers’ offense was painfully off-kilter. If they had an average offensive night, the score would have looked much more respectable. Tonight was a perfect storm of miscues. The Sixers only turned the ball over 11 times and never found a rhythm shooting.
Joel Embiid had his least impactful game since the last loss in Toronto. Embiid struggled to find any consistency on either end of the floor. His shooting stroke was ice-cold, and his defense was limited by the constant penetration of the Spurs offense. The Spurs should be credited for the way they defended Embiid and attacked him on defense, but from start to finish it was not his night. Expect a bounce-back game from Embiid on Wednesday vs. the Knicks.
Jimmy Butler had his worst game as a Sixer. He couldn’t figure it out scoring-wise and had trouble impacting the game in other areas. Butler took his usually shots, but came up empty. Nothing worked offensively, nd he was not alone. A highlight-reel alley-oop finish, compliments of Wilson Chandler, was Butler’s lone standout play. Butler has made a career off of finding ways to influence a game, but tonight was not one of them.
Ben Simmons put together one of his typical stat lines. He was efficient from the floor, collected rebounds, and distributed several assists. Simmons’ offensive night was highlighted by some forceful dunks and a few layups. The offense was playing so poorly I would have liked to see him force the issue more as a scorer and try to collapse the defense. Defensively, Simmons did not have his typical impact. He was late on closeouts and did not make any big plays on the ball. It was an okay night for a player that should have had a better game.
JJ Redick posted an efficient offensive night. The Spurs did an excellent job of running Redick off the three-point line. Redick had 11 shot attempts and only four were from deep. Redick took what the defense gave him, but San Antonio will live with Redick spraying long twos. The team as a whole needs to find ways to get Redick more than four look from beyond the arc. Redick had one steal, but otherwise was nonexistent on defense.
The Sixers got crushed, so we might as well recognize somebody that looked good in garbage time. Shake Milton made the most of his playing time. It may be on the wrong end of a blowout, but as a rookie on a two-way deal, all minutes are meaningful. Milton had a purpose with the ball every time he touched it. He hit two threes, displayed a decent handle, and threw a few nice passes. Milton wasted no time getting his name in the box score, and looked solid while doing it.
The Sixers offense couldn’t hit water falling out of a boat. Over the course of 82 games, teams are bound to have horrendous shooting nights. Tonight was an outlier for the Sixers. The game was the second game of a back-to-back on the road. Those games are usually rough around the edges and the Sixers’ thin rotation amplifies all of the side effects of a SEGABABA.
By no means is it an excuse. The game could have been held in Madagascar and the Sixers still would have lost. There aren’t many teams in the NBA you can beat shooting 29 percent from three, giving up 56 percent overall, and only going to the foul line seven times.
The game reinforced two main ideas. Don’t sleep on the Spurs, and the Sixers perimeter defense is a problem. Their depth wasn’t great to begin the year, and trading two starters for one only exposes the bench further. Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler are the only two reliable perimeter defenders on the team.
J.J. Redick has regressed. Landry Shamet isn’t there yet. T.J. McConnell can only defend people similar to his own size and athleticism. Furkan Korkmaz is not strong enough to handle physical wings, and Wilson Chandler shows flashes on the ball, but can get totally lost off of it.
The Sixers need one-on-one defenders. The Spurs dribbled around relentlessly, picking on the Sixers’ weak links. They need players that don’t need help and can handle switches (Hello healthy Zhaire Smith). The answers to their defensive issues are outside the organization, and Elton Brand needs to figure something out. Furkan Korkmaz being assigned to DeMar DeRozan isn’t exctly ideal …
The interior defense apart from Embiid is no better. Amir Johnson can’t move outside the paint, and Mike Muscala is not strong enough to anchor a defense. LaMarcus Aldridge tossed him around like a rag doll. A defensive oriented center is a must, for this team to start looking like a real Eastern Conference contender.
The Sixers have the perfect chance to get back on track Wednesday night in South Philly, against the abysmal New York Knicks.