76ers

Numbers suggest Sixers' shots will start falling again in Game 2

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Numbers suggest Sixers' shots will start falling again in Game 2

The offensive numbers from the Sixers’ Game 1 loss to the Boston Celtics were pretty ugly.

They shot 42.2 percent from the field, 19.2 percent from three-point range and 74.3 percent at the free throw line.

However, the Sixers believe they got everything they wanted in the series opener.

“Offensively, I thought, by and large, we did most of the things we wanted to do broadly speaking,” Sixers vice president of analytics and strategy Alex Rucker said in the latest Zoo’s Views podcast. “Our initial primary break in transition was really effective. We struggled with a few things in the half court, but honestly we missed shots. We weren’t able to hit shots that we’ve generally been able to make.”

So does that mean we can expect a different performance — particularly from three-point range — in Game 2? The averages would suggest a turnaround.

“On uncontested threes we shot 38 percent, which is pretty close to our season-long average. The real thing that stood out was we were 1 of 12 on contested threes,” Rucker said. “When they were able to get a hand up, we were 1 of 12 — eight percent — and we’re actually one of the top-five teams in the NBA at hitting contested threes. Those are looks we want. We just didn’t hit them.

“The guys we have that take those shots — Robert (Covington), JJ (Redick), Marco (Belinelli) — are some of the best guys in the league at hitting shots with a defender close by and we just didn’t hit those looks. It happens. You shake their hand and move on and don’t think it will happen again.” 

To hear more from Rucker along with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid’s thoughts on what they expect in Game 2, listen to the full podcast below.

Predictions for Game 4 of Sixers vs. Nets playoff series

Predictions for Game 4 of Sixers vs. Nets playoff series

After a 131-115 win in Brooklyn on Thursday night, the Sixers can come home a game away from advancing to the second round.

Paul Hudrick and Noah Levick give their predictions for Game 4: 

Hudrick
With Joel Embiid listed as doubtful … I actually have no clue what that means. He was doubtful in Game 1, but played. He was questionable in Game 2 and played. He was questionable and said his knee was getting better before Game 3, but didn’t play.

If the Sixers are looking to get Embiid rest, they’re playing a dangerous game. If Embiid is available, even if not at 100 percent, it would make more sense to play him, win Game 4 and then rest him for Game 5. When you start getting into these scenarios at all it seems dicey.

The good news for the Sixers is that they’ve proven they can beat the Nets without their All-Star center. Ben Simmons was the best player on the floor Thursday night while Tobias Harris appears to have gotten his swagger back. Brooklyn looked like it had never seen the JJ Redick dribble handoff action before, as the Sixers repeatedly went to that well.

The biggest reason the Sixers appear to be OK without Embiid is the steady play of Boban Marjanovic. The hulking center has been the team’s most consistent player in the series. You expect his efficient offense (14.3 points in 17.3 minutes a game while shooting 62 percent) but his defense was a major concern coming into this series. He’s more than stepped up to the challenge of being able to affect shots at the rim from the Nets’ dangerous guard trio.

The proposition of starting Greg Monroe isn’t great, but if the veteran big can just be a little better than he was in Game 3, it could go a long way.

With or without Embiid for Game 4, the Sixers come back to the Wells Fargo Center with a chance to punch their ticket to the second round.

Levick 
The Sixers’ offense dictated the action in Game 3, playing at a pace which Nets coach Kenny Atkinson admitted was beyond his team’s comfort level. The ability of Simmons, Jimmy Butler and Harris to push the ball up the floor has allowed the Sixers to play at a fast tempo without an exorbitant number of turnovers. 

In theory, the idea of playing zone to force the Sixers to deviate from their favored patterns and actions is sensible for the Nets, but it doesn’t matter much if the Sixers don’t give Brooklyn’s defense time to set up. Using a zone also doesn’t seem like the smartest idea for the Nets when Harris (6 for 6 from three-point range in Game 3) and Redick (5 for 9) are on the floor.

Joe Harris, 0 for 6 from three-point territory in the last two games, is due for a big game. So too is Butler, limited to 19 points total in Games 2 and 3. I expect Butler to take control at the point in the fourth quarter and help the Sixers seal another win at Barclays Center.

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Joel Embiid listed as doubtful for Sixers-Nets Game 4

Joel Embiid listed as doubtful for Sixers-Nets Game 4

Joel Embiid is listed as doubtful with left knee soreness on the NBA’s official injury report for Game 4 of the Sixers’ first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets.

He missed Game 3 in Brooklyn, a 131-115 Sixers’ win. About an hour before tip-off, Embiid discussed his knee pain, which he described as "tendinitis," saying he feels he’s getting better “slowly but surely" (see story). 

That said, it sounds like Embiid’s progress is non-linear and difficult for him to predict.

“At the end of the day, what cures it is just loading,” he said. “You gotta load in the right way. Can’t do too much and then also can’t sit out and do nothing. It’s hard to manage, but gotta do it. Gotta push through the pain and see where it goes.”

Embiid began practice Friday by firing a few three-pointers in his slippers.

He then laced up his sneakers and went through an individualized workout.

Brown said early Friday afternoon that his holistic “gut feel” Thursday was that Embiid would not play. He said he didn’t yet have a sense for Embiid’s Game 4 availability. 

Though the Sixers’ athlete care team is closely monitoring Embiid’s “loading,” all the factors behind the decision of whether he plays remain nebulous. Brett Brown has characterized that choice as being dictated both by how Embiid feels and the recommendation of the medical staff.

The center tandem of Greg Monroe and Boban Marjanovic combined for 23 points and 21 rebounds Thursday night. Marjanovic has been impressive in this series and quite possibly the Sixers’ most consistent player (see story). 

While he’s officially doubtful, it’s still very possible Embiid plays in Game 4. He went from being doubtful for Game 1 to playing and posting 22 points and 15 rebounds in the Sixers’ 111-102 loss.

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