Before Tuesday night’s 13-point win, I asked Brett Brown about the Eagles questions he was receiving during the Super Bowl run.
Sure, he could always answer generically with a “rah rah, go Birds, we’re really excited” type of response. But I was interested in whether or not Brown saw any kind of tangible effect from the Eagles’ playoff run on his team – maybe a higher energy level or boost in motivation or something along those lines:
“Yes I do (see it). I think that we all.. you ‘feel’ the city. We want that. We want to have a playoff game here. I’ve said to the team, both my parents are school teachers, my mom was a third grade teacher for 27 years and my dad was a high school teacher for 18 or 19. When they would always talk about the students and how the kids were raised, they’d talk about this thing that was actually called the ‘Pygmalion Effect,’ that people who knew what they wanted and were raised in a high level of expectation and accountability often times received it more than other kids. We wanna play in the playoffs, and here we are with five games at home. To be able to look across the street and see what the Eagles did and the way they did it, it’s an amazing story. They lost Carson and they found a way as a staff, organization, and team, to move on and get it done. So when you feel the city and watch that team and live here, you recognize the stories of perseverance, and you recognize that here we are, too, right across the street. We want to share that.”
It’s a cool concept, the idea that the Eagles’ success provides an influence or benchmark of sorts by which to judge our other local teams.
And if that’s the case, then the Pygmalion Effect certainly manifested itself last night at the Wells Fargo Center, with the Sixers shooting 55.6% in a 115 point effort against a team that had won five straight games, four without all-star point guard John Wall.
Philly was 14-28 from three point range for a smooth 50% downtown clip. Joel Embiid led the team with 27 and 12 while Ben Simmons added 15, 6, 8, and 3 steals. Dario Saric was his steady self on a 20-point night, JJ Redick was 4-5 from distance and Robert Covington looked a little bit better on the offensive end.
They didn’t rebound the ball particularly well, nor did they protect it. The Sixers committed 17 turnovers, 10 of which were split between Simmons and Covington, who were sloppy with their passing. Washington grabbed 16 offensive rebounds.
But as is the case on most nights, the Sixers were good enough in other areas to plaster over their deficiency of the evening, and hot shooting led to a double digit win over a really good team.
When Amir Johnson drains a three pointer and Jerryd Bayless finishes an alley oop dunk in the first quarter, you just have a feeling it’s going to be your night.
I’ve said before that turnovers aren’t always the story for this team. Last night was a good example of that, where they won by 13 despite those 17 miscues.
There was a point in this game where they had 14 turnovers and a 14 point lead, and that win/loss difference based on the total turnover number is still mostly negligible, with 17.4 turnovers in 26 wins and 17.6 in 25 losses. I mean, you can’t get much closer to .500 than that.
If you look over the play by play from last night, they really just answered every Washington run with clinical shooting.
At 8:54 in the third, the Sixers held a 19 point lead, 78-59. The Wizards went on a 12-2 run to cut the lead to nine on the strength of an offensive rebound and Bradley Beal three-pointer.
Covington then answered with this:
That’s… a confident stroke, and it helped the Sixers push the lead back to 14.
Same situation in the fourth, with Washington cutting the lead to eight, about 2:30 left to play.
Another huge answer, this time from JJ Redick:
That pretty much put it out of reach.
Going down the list in the second half, I count five times that Washington pulled within single digits, but they couldn’t get any closer than seven points, as the Sixers found an answer every single time.
Closing the doors
I think Brett Brown did a nice job of getting some looks for Redick, Embiid, and Simmons in the fourth quarter last night. He’s been solid this year at calling plays coming out of timeouts.
This one started off the fourth quarter, so apologies for the video quality, since TNT had a double box up when the play actually started, but this is a screen for Redick known as “elevator doors” –
Concept is simple, right? Redick runs between two big men, who each put a shoulder on his defender, essentially closing the doors on him. Embiid’s defender, Ian Mahinmi, actually steps out on the switch here, but Redick takes a dribble and hits the tough shot over him.
Worst case scenario, you’ve got Kelly Oubre mismatched on Embiid, and Redick could have dumped it into the post if he didn’t want to try the shot:
Good stuff there. You’ll see Golden State run this with Steph Curry.
If you watched the TNT broadcast last night, you saw Markelle Fultz do a first-half interview with Caron Butler.
Why is he speaking to national guys but not the local media? Well, Butler and Fultz share the same agent and this was set up outside of the Sixers’ public relations department. Basically Markelle’s people put it together for him:
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 7, 2018
Fultz started practicing 5v5 more than a month ago, but he’s not yet a full participant in practice, which is why he does not have to be made available to the media. The only other time he spoke post-injury was in London, when foreign reporters approached him following a training session and asked a couple of questions before he was pulled away by Sixers’ PR. He wasn’t supposed to be available in England, apparently it was just a big mass of people and he was present in the gym.
So last night’s incident annoyed some of our press corps, who asked Brett Brown about it after the game. Here’s the full transcript of every Fultz-related question:
Q: You’ve got a couple of days off coming up, what is Markelle able to do and what is he not able to do?
Brown: He doesn’t go through everything. There are some drills I take him out of. But he does go through a lot. He does go through a large majority of the practice. It isn’t 100% yet but it’s a very large majority of our practices.
Q: What are the drills you take him out of?
Brown: When I feel like there’s some conditioning stuff, I’ll take him out of it. But it’s not much.
Q: What’s the reason for taking him out of conditioning stuff?
Brown: Because I feel like he looks like he hasn’t played basketball for awhile, so I take him out.
Q: Were you surprised that he went on national TV tonight and said he was trying to re-learn his shot?
Brown: I understand your questions. And I really don’t know much about it. I look forward to listening and learning more, but as I sit up here, I don’t really know much about what went on.
(some unrelated questions, then back to the topic)
Q: Are there drills that Markelle is held out of that have to do with his shoulder?
Brown: Not entirely, no.
Q: So.. a little bit?
Brown: No, that’s not my purpose. I stand by what I said. When I see him, that he is completely fatigued, I’ll take him out of the drill.
Q: Is there a point in the season, where, you’re in the middle of a playoff push, is there a point, or a date where you just can’t put him back in the rotation because this is who you have, this is what the team is?
Brown: I don’t think there is. I understand (the question) – at what point does him coming back be disruptive. I don’t see that timeline. I think that when he’s available I’ll try to figure it out. But in relation to a drop dead date, that has not been discussed.
If the Sixers make a trade before tomorrow’s deadline, Bryan Colangelo will be in front of the media. And if Fultz’s people are setting up national interviews, they’re obviously still at odds with the Sixers front office, but moving forward with the media in some way, shape, or form, and I see that as a positive thing.
So just hang tight and we’ll get the answers sooner rather than later.
OR, the Sixers could clear Fultz tomorrow and let him speak while everybody is at the Eagles parade. That would be savage as hell but incredibly shrewd.