If there was one criticism with GM Elton Brand’s roster construction this offseason, it’s that he didn’t add enough shooting.
But nobody thought it would be this bad.
The Sixers shot just 8 of 38 from three but scratched and clawed their way to a thrilling 98-97 win over the Cavaliers at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night (see observations). They haven’t been the worst shooting team in the NBA — even after Tuesday’s dreadful performance, they’re 21st in the NBA — but they certainly haven’t been good.
It was an ugly, physical win. The kind of win we should expect to see a lot of with this team.
“We had to be,” Brown said when asked if his team was especially physical. “I mean, look, we always say, 'Well, why don't you drive the ball more, you can't take 38 shots.' Sometimes that's what the game tells you to do. If everybody's jamming the paint, we're not going to turn away shots. ... And I thought our defense was pretty good to hold them to 97 points. But you'd like to have probably four crazy turnovers back and you'd like to have about four more makes out of the number that I just said. And that's the fragility of our game. That's our sport. And you better guard if you're not going to make shots.”
Tobias Harris had one of the worst games of his NBA career. He actually had one of the worst shooting performances in NBA history.
He went 0 for 11 from three — that’s one off the record for the most attempts from three without a make. Before Tuesday night, only four players had gone 0 for 11 or worse from three. The good news is one of them is Stephen Curry. The bad news is … well, it’s bad.
After the game, Brown revealed that Harris was dealing with a stomach bug. Brown said he made his game plan for the night as if Harris wasn’t going to play.
To his credit, Harris did manage to put his poor shooting behind him to make a few clutch plays down the stretch.
“You know, you can just look at somebody and it looks either that he hasn't slept, he looks a little bit sort of almost thin in the face,” Brown said, “and he said, ‘I want to go,’ and he did, and so then the game begins and he's not able to make a shot.
“I thought his defense was pretty good and I thought he played with a good spirit. But we all see what we saw. He couldn't make a bucket. And then to his incredible credit and I think character, he comes in with two huge baskets at the end and a big assist out of a play we drew out of a [timeout] and got his hand on some offensive rebounds that we needed to get because we missed so many shots toward the end. That is the Tobias story for tonight.”
Perhaps Harris’ illness is part of the reason he shot so poorly, but this also part of a troubling trend.
Harris was a borderline All-Star player during his time with the Clippers. The addition of an elite three-point shot is what made him such a coveted piece for Brand. With L.A., Harris hit 42.6 percent of his threes in a healthy sample size (182 of 427). Since joining the Sixers, he’s hit just 29.8 percent (54 of 181) in 37 regular-season games.
When it was thought that the Sixers wouldn’t have enough shooting, Harris wasn’t part of that concern. Before the game, Brown referred to him as his “new JJ Redick at 6-foot-9.”
Josh Richardson, who was just 1 of 8 from distance Tuesday, was another player that seemed capable of at least hitting around league average from three. Richardson shot 36.8 percent during his four seasons with Miami. So far with the Sixers, he’s at 26.5 percent (13 of 49).
Theoretically, the shooting should get better — as long as guys like Harris and Richardson return to the capabilities their track records show.
If they don’t …
“We play hard,” Richardson said. “That's all you can really say about it. Guys were showing a lot of toughness down the stretch even when things weren't falling for us. There are going to be plenty of nights like that. This is not going to be the last night where we have a tough night shooting. Just gotta learn how to fight through it.”
They’ve had plenty of practice through 10 games this season.
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