As far as losses go, they don’t get more aggravating than that.
JJ Redick had just knocked down three foul shots to put the Sixers up 98-95 with 1:47 left in the fourth quarter, then this happened:
- Dwyane Wade miss
- Redick turnover (missed alley oop for Ben Simmons)
- Hassan Whiteside and Joel Embiid trade buckets
- Wade “fouled” on three-point attempt
- Simmons fouled, makes 1/2 free throws
- Wade hits go-ahead shot
- Redick misses open three
- Sixers lose
It was a combination of most annoying things you think of, wrapped up nicely and packaged into a one-point road loss. The final two minutes featured a killer turnover, a missed free throw, a veteran opponent getting a veteran call, and the Sixers blowing an opportunity to win it on a wide-open look.
Starting with the turnover, doesn’t it always seem like Redick is good for one fourth-quarter lapse per game? For a veteran, he’s made some surprisingly rough decisions in late moments of close contests. And while the conversion of three free throws at the 1:47 mark is clutch in its own regard, he’s a 23-million dollar player with an open-look to win the game. You’d expect him to hit more than 25% of his three pointers in those scenarios, but that’s his “clutch” 3P% according to NBA.com.
Here’s what Redick said about the look:
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) February 28, 2018
The issue I have with the foul on Saric isn’t that no contact was made. There was certainly contact, and obviously you can’t bite on the D-Wade pump fake, which Simmons did a few minutes earlier. Saric left his feet, but Wade leaned sideways into him to get the call and goes on to shoot three free throws.
Compare it to the foul Redick took on his three-point play earlier, when he went straight up and was fouled in the process of shooting. That’s two totally different things. The latter has always been a bogus sequence that I think should be reffed differently, but what do I know? I just feel like shooters jumping into defenders should be less of an automatic whistle and more of a judgment call.
Then, the Simmons foul, which apparently was an accident:
Goran Dragic tells @TheJaxShow that it was a miscommunication fouling Simmons. Though, he says, “that’s how we do it in Europe (Get the last possession). I told D-Wade Simmons is a 50% FT shooter.
— Jorge Sedano (@SedanoESPN) February 28, 2018
Accidental or not, it worked.
Simmons hit 1 of 2 and Miami got the ball back, so while it wasn’t the Scott Brooks hack-a-Simmons or Gregg Popovich deciding to do it while up a point, the end result benefited Miami.
And I saw some people griping about Simmons at the end there, but I didn’t see much wrong with his defense. On the final play, he stayed on his feet and held Wade to a contested 20-foot jumper. I don’t know what people want from Ben in that situation. Wade is a three-time NBA champion and 12-time all star, so, yea, sometimes players like that make tough shots, or get hot down the stretch.
The Sixers didn’t play well. They really didn’t. Redick finished 4-14 and Robert Covington never really got off the ground (again). Embiid and Simmons were less impactful while Saric was his typically steady self. But in a game where they turned it over 23 times, Brett Brown’s team still did enough to win on the road against a decent Miami team.
They’ve got a back-to-back with Cleveland and Charlotte this Thursday and Friday, and I really think it makes sense to sit Embiid against the Cavs, take the L, and get ready for the Hornets at home. You’ve got enough of a cushion right now and enough back-loaded home games that he doesn’t need to run himself ragged playing back-to-backs in early March.
25 pick and roll
One of the things the Sixers did do well last night was get Redick and Embiid going on the 25 pick and roll, which is basically just a PnR with the shooting guard (2) and center (5). Alaa Abdelnaby explained that in the first half last night, and I like when he gets into that territory, because it really adds to the broadcast. That’s the point of the color commentator, isn’t it? To add color? Anybody can get on the microphone and say, “man, what a DUNK FROM EMBIID!” but the I appreciate the explanation of play calls and designs.
Anyway, I digress. In a world of Reggie Millers, we rarely hear meaningful stuff on TV, so I wanted to shout out Alaa.
They ran it successfully, twice in a row, to end a Miami second quarter run. The first is initiated by Embiid on a dribble handoff, while the second is a more traditional looking middle pick and roll off a loose ball recovery:
On the second play, even after a broken sequence, they do a nice job of remaining spaced out and letting Embiid throw up the impromptu screen:
They went back to it in the fourth quarter with success, this time getting Embiid on a pick n’ pop to take a five point lead with around 3:25 remaining:
That’s just lovely stuff. Imagine running your 2-guard in a PnP situation with your 7’2″ center like this:
And they actually went to this again on the final Embiid bucket of the game, when he worked the side with Redick and decided to drive instead of try the jump-shot:
Three different things from Embiid in three different clips. You’ve got a screen for a shooter, a pick and pop three-pointer, and a drive to the rack. That’s your 7’2″ center doing all of those things.
The first and only power forward off the bench, he played 17 minutes last night.
Trevor Booker was a healthy DNP, which means that he’s probably headed out the door when the Sixers make that rumored move for Ersan Ilyasova.
Holmes finished wth 6 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks. And he played some five, too, alongside Dario Saric after Embiid picked up his fifth foul in the fourth quarter.
The first guy off the bench was actually Marco Belinelli, who came in for Redick in a scenario that allowed him to get some run with the first team.
It seemed to work out well enough, with Belinelli finishing 4-8 and 2-4 from three for 13 points on the evening. He played 26 minutes last night, which is right around the marks of 25, 27, 27, and 28 that he hit in his first four Sixer games. So even though the rotation was different last night, it didn’t seem to affect his minutes.
Early in the season, Amir Johnson for Embiid was always the first bench move, just for the fact that Embiid’s health was not what it is now. Recently, T.J. McConnell had been the first guy off the pine, replacing Redick and playing alongside Simmons. McConnell still got 24 minutes last night, which is right around his season average of 24.5.
I can’t take anymore of the LeBron/Philly stuff, not when the Sixers are actually in a playoff push and the Flyers are in first place and the Union season opener is Saturday (not that you give a shit, but I do).
But the “my source vs. your source vs. his source vs. her source” thing took another turn last night when Alaa jumped into the fray on the broadcast:
“This is what I’m being told. Prior to going out to LA, he was out here. Listen, apparently it doesn’t take that long to check out schools, but from my good sources — my very reliable sources — LeBron was looking at private schools on the Main Line.”
— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) February 28, 2018
Kyle has a Malvern Prep source who says otherwise. Russ has another who says something and Jeff I think has a source there, too. I don’t. I don’t have any Malvern Prep sources. I went to high school in Berks County, so I’m out of the loop.
This is basically what I hear in my head while trying to get a good night’s sleep: