Joel Embiid scores 48 factors, Sixers proceed to lose to Wizards

Joel Embiid’s 48 factors weren’t sufficient to keep away from a 114-111 loss to the Wizards, with apathetic protection and poor taking pictures ending Philadelphia’s eight-game successful streak.

That is what I noticed.

The Good

• The Wizards determined to start out two bigs Tuesday night time, clearly hoping to get Kristaps Porzingis off of Joel Embiid. It additionally had some basketball otherwise, because it virtually all the time assured that you’d have some weak rim safety behind whoever was guarding Embiid. The dangerous information for Washington is that none of their different gamers have a hope or a prayer in opposition to Embiid, which was evident from the opening tip, not to mention after he dumped 16 first quarter factors on them.

Embiid was simply too massive, too quick, too sturdy for anybody on the Wizards to deal with. He unleashed a pleasant spin transfer to beat Daniel Gafford on the baseline, a robust transfer to chase down Porzingis for a layup, and he largely simply went round Taj Gibson, who was an efficient defender at his peak however does not have a lot left within the. tank at 37 years previous. You would simply overlook it if Embiid finally ends up with somebody turning him on that the Wizards did not need – bless Rui Hachimura for attempting, however he would possibly want a 2×4 to attempt to preserve Embiid from going over or by means of him.

The massive man was just about all of the Sixers had within the early phases of this recreation, although it is not like that they had a lot purpose to maneuver on from him. And these are the nights the place you actually see the worth of getting a celebrity — Philadelphia’s first-half effort on protection would have gained them a blowout on quite a few events, however they have been nonetheless inside vary at halftime as a result of the Wizards could not. cease Embiid.

Embiid wasn’t a lot better (although he was higher) than most of his teammates on protection within the first half, however he was the person main the cost for Philadelphia there after they lastly began to present offense within the third quarter. The Sixers sat again in a zone for a lot of this recreation, and whereas it led to some open threes that ought to have been simply prevented, Embiid was capable of do some nice cleanup work when the Wizards tried to assault the paint, arising with a couple of huge blocks within the third quarter when Philadelphia went on its run.

I will see if I can discover a clip of this sequence later, however for me, this was probably the most notable sequence of the sport:

If Embiid did not do it, neither did anybody else on the Sixers. There have been moments on this recreation the place he legitimately seemed like prime Shaquille O’Neal, completely bulldozing a staff that had no person in his weight class. Regardless of what number of guys have been in his approach, Embiid discovered a strategy to undergo or round them, coming away with the basketball and two extra factors.

• I wasn’t significantly enamored of this efficiency from Harden by means of three quarters, the place the constructive contributions he made have been virtually all erased by his matador protection and lack of effort on the opposite finish. Perhaps you select to take a look at it the best way Cardale Jones as soon as approached the topic of courses at Ohio State – Harden did not come right here to play protection, and after they wanted him most offensively, he delivered.

Harden’s main contribution early in that recreation was getting Philadelphia transferring after they received stops, typically feeding a streaky Tobias Harris as he ran down the wing. However as we moved deeper into the sport, these kicks and hard-hitting ahead passes disappeared, with Harden typically opting to go it himself in opposition to a scrappy group of Wizards defenders.

To see Harden attain the cup constantly was, even on this nice form he is in, fairly stunning. It has been such a battle for him to complete across the basket during the last season and a half, however he is made it look as simple as he did at his MVP-level peak within the second half, drawing contact and utilizing good footwork to get round Wizards gamers. When Embiid sat on the bench early within the fourth quarter, it was Harden carrying Philadelphia’s offense himself, refusing to be denied as he attacked the bucket on seemingly each possession.

What we have seen the final couple of video games is a blueprint for high-level success within the playoffs, at the least on offense. If Harden can commonly summon that offensive prowess within the moments when Embiid rests, it’ll go a good distance towards fixing the everlasting drawback of enjoying/succeeding with out the large man on the ground.

The Unhealthy

• I simply need to go away this up there to verify nobody misses it – the Sixers’ late-game offense has been completely horrible, and most of that comes right down to failures by their prime two gamers. Harden and Embiid have been the one actual positives throughout this recreation, however they turned the ball over a ton within the ultimate couple of minutes, the Sixers enjoying a disorganized, disorganized offense for no actual purpose.

How do you get the ball with 37 seconds left within the recreation, down simply three factors, and spend 17 seconds stepping out of first rate appears to be like earlier than turning the ball over? Embiid was the man who misplaced the ball in the long run, however the entire staff must know the state of affairs there. The worst factor you are able to do is bleed the clock, as a result of should you shoot shortly and miss, you continue to have an opportunity to cease and rating with out getting fouled.

Late was mind basketball. And the Sixers ought to save their two-minute offense for after they’re really lower than two minutes right into a recreation, as a result of aside from the great ATO with about three minutes left, it has been a slopfest.

• Cease me should you’ve heard this earlier than: the Sixers had a poor first half on the defensive finish, permitting the opposition to harm them with second-chance factors. Did not we see this on Christmas in opposition to the Knicks? I suppose they sort of really feel like they will simply climb out of no matter gap they create for themselves.

Perhaps they’ve earned the suitable to really feel just a little off after a major successful streak, however there’s positively a center floor between fully ignoring protection and enjoying maximum-strength basketball in late December. The Sixers have not discovered that candy spot within the final two video games, and it is brought about wild swings in effectivity from quarter to quarter, even second to second.

Embiid was a goal of scorn for many individuals throughout halftime, and I will not inform you that he was at his finest on the boards. This season has been worse for him on the glass, one of many few areas the place that is the case, and loads of that comes right down to fundamental preparation and fundamentals he might be sharper on. There is no purpose, for instance, he ought to permit somebody like Porzingis to fly over him for an offensive rebound and one other possession for the Wizards. Getting caught on occasion is one factor, however the points are too distinguished in charge it on dangerous luck.

Then again, we are able to actually have a look at all the opposite culprits within the seek for the supply of the issue. We frequently see Embiid have to come back out and contest a driver or pull-up shooter to keep away from conceding a wide-open look, solely to have the rebound spill to his man (whom another person ought to flip to) on the opposite facet. from the sting There have been instances in Tuesday’s recreation the place Embiid completed on a swap, made an amazing play to contest a shot, and his teammates stood round flat-footed hoping the basketball would discover them. Harden and Harris had some ugly moments between them, staring on the ball like they may will it to themselves with telekinetic powers.

If the Sixers have certainly found out tips on how to flip their finest play on and off on command, that is nice, and it’ll turn out to be useful over a protracted season when it’s a must to beat good groups and dangerous groups alike. However the first half of this recreation was simply comically dangerous defensively, and they need to have the ability to keep away from a half like that on expertise alone. Too many of those currently after the staff put collectively a protracted tight, tight-knit protection beginning in early November.

• Philadelphia’s different drawback within the first half was an incapacity to make thirds, and oddly sufficient, I feel that was really the case. defensive drawback above all.

Let me make clear – the Sexters have been capable of create high-quality appears to be like for mainly all the half, and I believed they have been appropriately aggressive early within the clock after they had open threes to shoot. If you happen to might simply ignore the chances (lol) I believed that they had a pleasant mixture of slower, paint-heavy basketball and a quicker, jump-shooting tempo.

Sadly, Philadelphia’s choice to shoot early and shoot typically ended up contributing to their defensive points, these misses sending the Wizards operating the opposite approach. When the Sixers had the numbers again to defend, which wasn’t a given, they typically could not assist themselves from fouling. The Wizards have a bottom-10 offense regardless of having some massive names on the roster, and the Sixers’ incapacity to capitalize on early Washington turnovers allowed the Wiz to hold on after which open up a large lead.

And sure, the lack to shoot finally grew to become an issue on offense too. Harris had one in all his worst offensive performances of the season on this one, Georges Niang put up brick after brick in prolonged minutes, solely De’Anthony Melton had a half-respectable night time from depth on Tuesday. Laborious to win video games once you shoot as poorly because the Sixers did on Tuesday.

• This recreation was an ideal instance of why folks need to see Paul Reed get minutes at backup middle, or maybe extra precisely, why they do not need to watch Montrezl Harrell at backup middle. He did about as a lot as he might on offense, enjoying hyper-efficient basketball across the rim, and it mainly did not matter due to how dangerous he was on the opposite finish. Harrell dedicated each sin you could possibly think about – too jumpy across the rim, too aggressive on his ends, too fast to slip for the ball after enjoying himself out of place.

I additionally want that Harrell’s “effort” utilized to the tip of the ground the place it really issues.

• That is an instance of a recreation the place you simply have to sit down Danuel Home Jr. and hope another person may give you bench minutes. He was an absolute catastrophe on each ends, and he had one of many single-worst sequences of the sport, turning the ball over earlier than fouling Corey Kispert when he knocked down a 3 in transition.

The Ugly

• Look man, we are able to all see PJ Tucker coping with ache in his hand out on the ground. You’ll be able to see him shaking it consistently whereas he is on the market, attempting to play by means of a pinched nerve to assist the staff. In some unspecified time in the future, if he insists he wants/desires to be on the market, that you must shield him from himself.

Extra importantly, if he does not play effectively, you should not play him. You might be able to get a extra helpful present participant and assist him get his physique proper. Win win!

Then again, Niang being in mainly each motion the Wizards ran within the fourth quarter reveals you precisely what groups consider him on the defensive finish. I actually like Niang as a job participant, however he was just a little overstretched on Tuesday night time.

• It was worn out by an offensive foul on Harden — arguably the suitable name — however Embiid dunking in transition after a between-the-legs go from Harden was a pleasant early spotlight.

Harden gave the impression to be auditioning for Lane Johnson’s job whereas the Eagles’ proper deal with is out for the subsequent few weeks. He cleaned out Porzingis in a rush.

Comply with Kyle on Twitter: @KyleNeubeck

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