6 observations from Sixers-Clippers

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6 observations from Sixers-Clippers

The Sixers could not complete a comeback against the Clippers in a 94-83 loss at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday night (see Instant Replay).

Here's a look at some key factors from the game:

1. No containing CP3
Before the game, Sixers head coach Brett Brown explained how he hoped to contain Clippers point guard Chris Paul.

“We need to keep the game in front of us on all levels. He is so special in regards to disposition and mindset,” Brown said before the game. “He is the alpha dog.”

Obviously, containing Paul is easier said than done since he had little difficulty driving to his spots on the floor. Though he had 13 assists to go with 25 points, Paul could have had a lot more assists, and that’s just counting the passes he made to Willie Green.

Green shot 3 for 11 and missed five wide-open shots that would have been assists for Paul.

As far as Brown’s “alpha dog” comment in regard to Paul, it’s an apt description. Paul was clearly in charge of the game, dictating its ebbs and flows. The people sitting courtside had no trouble hearing Paul direct his teammates around the floor or call for outlet passes after missed shots.

2. Man in the middle
As for rebounds, there were plenty of them for both teams on Monday night. The Sixers missed 20 shots in the first quarter and 17 more during the second quarter.

Those missed shots worked out well for Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, who grabbed 11 rebounds in the first half and 21 for the game. Jordan entered the game averaging 12.9 boards per game, the fourth-best average in the league.

Like Paul, Jordan had plenty to say on the floor during the game. During the second half, Jordan told the Sixers’ Brandon Davies, “I take those,” as they leapt for a rebound.

The Sixers made just three three-pointers against the Clippers, missing 18. Spencer Hawes went 0 for 2 from three-point range and saw his three-point streak end at 20 games.

The 20-game streak is the sixth-longest in team history.

Hawes was marginalized by the Clippers’ big men, shooting 1 for 6 for two points and four rebounds. At one point during the third quarter, Blake Griffin posted up Hawes in the middle of the paint as if he caught the Sixers in a mismatch.

3. Be aggressive
Brown also talked about the Sixers’ need to get more aggressive play from Evan Turner during the pregame powwow with the media. Whether Brown provided the impetus for Turner’s focused play or some other reason, it worked.

Turner got to the basket as evidenced by seven shots made in the paint and eight rebounds.

The aggressiveness wasn’t just reserved for Turner’s drives to the basket. While protesting a call near the Clippers’ bench during the third quarter, Los Angeles’ bench player Ryan Hollins stood up and said something to Turner.

Rather than telling Hollins to mind his own business, Turner told the center to be quiet in much more direct and colorful language.

Sometimes the direct approach best drives the point home.

4. Loud and clear
The (non) call Turner was protesting was an emphatic blocked shot by Griffin on a little jumper by Davies. Griffin swatted the ball into the fourth row behind the Clippers’ bench, though it was clearly a goaltend. Either way, the Sixers kept the ball.

5. Showing some fire
Turner and Lavoy Allen were in the middle of a little dust-up with the Clippers’ Paul and Jordan. Paul is no stranger to getting his ire up against bigger players, especially strong guys who set big picks. In fact, two summers ago, Paul had to be pulled away from Anderson Varejao during a pre-Olympic exhibition game between the U.S. and Brazil.

6. No worries
Thad Young shrugged off the non-existent trade rumors (see story) with a team-high 11 rebounds and plenty of drives to the hoop against Griffin.

“I definitely love Philly, and want to continue being here,” Young said. “If they see fit to trade me, then hey, my time is up and I have to move on.”

NBA power rankings: Sixers can't escape the lower third

NBA power rankings: Sixers can't escape the lower third

With the NBA's glorified exhibition in the rearview mirror, we reenter reality of the remaining NBA season. The Sixers still are looking for suitors for Jahlil Okafor while questions swirl around about the health of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. 

Some claim they are tanking still, and if those people are talking about the recent NBA power rankings then they would be right. 

Games before the All-Star break
Last Monday and Wednesday the Sixers split their two games before the break, beating the Hornets and losing to the Celtics. 

Dario Saric continues to be the Sixers' most productive player in the absence of Embiid. In the short week, he averaged 19 points (a team leader in that category both games) and 11 rebounds. 

T.J. McConnell continues to control the floor at the point, dishing out seven assists against the Hornets and eight against the Celtics. 

An inability to finish has been the story for the Sixers without Embiid. The Sixers led by one at the half against the Hornets and were tied with the Celtics at the midway point. These are good signs, but these guys are far from being contenders in the east. The experts agree. 

What's next
Only two games this week for the 76ers: Friday at home against the Wizards (7 p.m./CSN) and on the road on Sunday to play the Knicks (7:30 p.m./CSN).

What the experts say
ESPN’s Marc Stein had some fun with his rankings this week using tweets and memes to describe a team’s current situation. The Sixers dropped from 20 to 23 in his rankings — not a significant drop but a drop nonetheless. 

He used this one in his evaluation of the Sixers:

NBA.com’s John Schuhmann bumped the Sixers up from 22 to 21 this week. He sees great improvement in Saric’s game stating: “Saric has already shown a lot of improvement and TLC, with his length on the perimeter, could prove to be a great fit next to the other core pieces if he can knock down shots.”

He added a positive thought on the Demarcus Cousins trade and how the Sixers still made out well even though they were not able to ship Okafor to the Pelicans. 

“The Sixers lost a potential trading partner with the DeMarcus Cousins trade to New Orleans, but still came out a winner in the deal, because they can swap first round picks with the Kings this year and own Sacramento's pick (with no protections) in 2019.”

Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes did not move the 76ers from the 21 spot on his list last week. He writes that he is intrigued with this processing team: “Sorry, but I'm never going to stop being delighted by the Sixers finding ways to win.”

He made his prediction for games won by the Sixers if they get Embiid back on the court: “It's hard to know what Simmons might bring, but Embiid's contributions are well understood. If he makes it back and looks healthy, Philly could easily win 30-plus games.”

Finally, Fox Sports’ Andrew Lynch dropped the Sixers from 27 to 28 – yikes! His outlook is very pessimistic as he looks exclusively at the injuries of Embiid and Simmons. He writes that a complete shutdown of Simmons would make sense as the season’s end gets closer by the day. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give and Go: Do Joel Embiid's injuries limit his ceiling?

Give and Go: Do Joel Embiid's injuries limit his ceiling?

With the team at the All-Star break, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are CSNPhilly.com producer/reporters Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick.

In this edition, we describe Joel Embiid's rookie season.

Haughton
There are so many different ways to go when describing Joel Embiid's long-awaited rookie season.

The numbers say dominant. Embiid leads all rookies in points (20.2), rebounds (7.8) and blocks (2.4) per game. He's also second in field goal percentage (46.6) among first-year players.

Of course, the injury situation — and handling of it by the team — has made Embiid's first season a bit frustrating. After waiting two seasons for the center to overcome foot injuries, you can understand the team's cautious approach. However, the almost random playing patterns at times and the near radio silence on his medical status has left a bad taste.

Still, overall I would say Embiid's rookie campaign has been refreshing for the franchise. Following three straight seasons of absolute abysmal basketball, the Sixers finally appear to have a real building block. 

Not only that, but Embiid also gives them a charismatic personality that is filling up the Wells Fargo Center again and being recognized on a national stage. You can't ask for much more after what the organization endured in recent years.

Hudrick
Describing Embiid's season depends on which perspective you're looking at it from. 

When he's been on the court, it's been unbelievable. He's a 22-year-old Cameroonian who's only been playing the game of basketball for a few years. He also didn't play for two years after two foot surgeries. Even with all that, he's been the most exciting basketball player this city has seen since Allen Iverson.

From a statistical standpoint, his numbers align with some of the greatest rookie big men of all time. While mentioning Embiid and Hakeem Olajuwon in the same breath may be premature, it's an indication of just how spectacular he has been. Their rookie seasons actually compare favorably.

Of course, the injuries are concerning. Will he ever be a full-time player? Embiid recently expressed his interest in playing back-to-back games. The organization won't give him the opportunity this year and I'm not sure how many opportunities they'll give him in the future. 

With that said, Embiid can still make an impact in 60-something games a season. When he's on the court, he can be one of the most dominant players in the league. When healthy, Embiid is the most exciting athlete in Philadelphia.