Turns out the Oscars was not the worst thing on television last night.
It was your team, your town, your 76ers, who were probably due for a performance like that.
I’ll give you my thoughts, but first let’s check in with Jim Mora, for his take on the game:
Thanks Jim, I don’t disagree.
The Sixers blew a pair of double-digit leads last night in a streaky game where they scored 43 points in the 1st quarter, 29 in the 2nd, 14 in the 3rd, and 24 in the 4th. The runs were violent and frequent, not the toilet kind, but the lopsided segments of play where one team looked unbeatable and the other looked hapless.
In that sense, it felt kind of like the London game against the Celtics, didn’t it? They Sixers came out flying, grabbed an early lead, and couldn’t miss the net. Then they completely fell apart in the second half, looking totally rattled, like a shell of the team we’ve seen rip off 34 wins this season.
It started in the third quarter last night when the Sixers were leading 81-62. Milwaukee went on a 31 to 5 run in 10:15, a span in which the Sixers turned it over eight times, missed 10 of 11 shots, and had two more blocked. The turnover issue, combined with the Bucks grabbing 16 offensive boards, gave Milwaukee an incredible +25 margin in total shot attempts.
You’re not gonna win many games when that happens, and the “fire Brett Brown” crowd came out of the woodwork last night to remind us where they stand.
I won’t sit here and make excuses for the performance, but I’ll point out that the Sixers are 9-3 in their last 12, sitting at 34-28 on March 5th, and firmly in line for a playoff berth with the NBA’s easiest schedule ahead. They’ll be fine once this road trip concludes. Playing eight of ten away from home is a rough start to March, but it’s cupcakes down the stretch.
And all NBA teams have clunkers; the Sixers’ just seem to fall apart in a much more spectacular fashion than everyone else.
The good news is:
They usually turn it around
When you go back to January 1st, the Sixers have only experienced two losing streaks.
The first was at the end of the month, when they dropped three straight road games in OKC, Milwaukee, and Brooklyn. The second was a little more than a week ago, when they lost in Washington and then succumbed to Dwyane Wade in Miami.
Otherwise, they’ve answered their losses with comeback wins, usually getting the bad play out of their system and responding appropriately.
You may remember they followed the London loss with a win against 1st-place Toronto on Martin Luther King Day.
The disappointing Memphis loss was erased with a 14-point win against Chicago.
And after going down in Indy they bounced back to take out Washington.
Even at the end of those losing streaks, they snapped out of it with wins against Miami and Cleveland, a pair of playoff teams, so they’ve shown some resilience in 2018, usually shedding whatever funk afflicted them prior.
Every team has crap losses. The Hornets beat the Warriors by double-digits in Oakland in December. Houston lost at home to the Lakers. The Spurs have lost 6 of 7.
Stuff happens. The Sixers blew a game but they’ll be fine.
They finished with a season high of 26, half of which were committed by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
There was only one that I recall that was bogus, and that was a bad call on Ersan Ilyasova, who was falling out of bounds but got rid of the ball before putting his foot down. So the refs missed that call.
But everything else was just.. slop, total slop. Bad passes, offensive fouls, loose handles leading to transition run outs:
Stuff like that.
The thing is, there’s still not a HUGE difference in the turnover totals for wins/losses.
- In 34 wins, the Sixers have turned it over 16.6 times on average
- In 28 losses, the Sixers have turned it over 18.1 times on average
There’s a bit more separation there in recent weeks. Through January, the difference was a negligible 0.2, which meant they were simply finding ways to circumvent the TO issue, be it strong shooting, rebounding, or defense.
For instance, they’ve turned the ball over 20+ times in 11 games this season.
Here’s how that looks:
- 3/4 – Bucks 118, Sixers 110, 26 turnovers
- 12/12 – Sixers 118, Timberwolves 112, 24 turnovers (overtime)
- 2/27 – Heat 102, Sixers 101, 23 turnovers
- 1/22 – Grizzlies 105, Sixers 101, 23 turnovers
- 12/21 – Raptors 114, Sixers 109, 23 turnovers
- 12/23 – Raptors 102, Sixers 86, 22 turnovers
- 1/18 – Sixers 89, Celtics 80, 22 turnovers
- 11/7 – Sixers 107, Jazz 86, 22 turnovers
- 10/23 – Sixers 97, Pistons 86, 21 turnovers
- 1/15 – Sixers 117, Raptors 111, 21 turnovers
- 12/31 – Sixers 123, Suns 110, 21 turnovers
They’re 6-5 when they turn it over more than 20 times per game.
In some of those wins they’ve played good defense, holding opponents under 90 points. In others, they’ve shot the ball well. They were 55.8% from the field to wipe away 21 turnovers against Phoenix on New Year’s Eve. In the home win against Toronto, Embiid went for 34 points while Kyle Lowry was held to 3-16 shooting.
So there are a variety of ways they can overcome or masque the turnover issue when it rears its head. Last night it just seemed to be this cumulative/snowball effect that got worse and worse as they became mentally frazzled.
It wasn’t his fault.
He started 7-7 from the field and finished 9-11 overall, hitting 4 of 5 threes. He scored 25 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, and chipped in just two of the 26 turnovers.
After a 9-point clunker vs. Charlotte, he rebounded to contribute 15 or more points for the 17th time in 27 games dating back to January 1st.
He’s now shooting 45.1% on the season and 38.7% from three, up significantly from the 41.1% and 31.1% he shot in each department last year.
It looks even better when look at the month by month improvement:
Furthermore, he’s scoring 14.7 points on 45% shooting in wins and 14.8 points on 45.1% shooting in losses, so the contributions are steady and don’t seem to change much no matter how the rest of the team is playing,
Fly the Process, Operation Shithole
Spike Eskin and the Rights to Ricky Sanchez people packed a large section of the BMO Harris Bradley Center last night during their annual road trip.
The idea was to heckle Malcolm Brogdon as payback for his 2016/2017 Rookie of the Year not over Joel Embiid, but Brogdon is injured, so they picked a random guy to boo instead. I think it was Tony Snell.
Anyway, you could hear them on TV, and Joel Embiid pointed to the group after the Sixers jumped out to a quick lead:
it sounds like a sixers home game and there are multiple kornblau signs pic.twitter.com/gOqPtCC8BE
— James Herbert (@outsidethenba) March 5, 2018
I asked Giannis about the big crowd of Philly fans who made themselves known at the @BMOHBC tonight: “I’ve never seen that in the NBA. In Europe, you can see that more often, fans from the other team. That was unique; that was fun, actually.” CC: @RTRSPodcast
— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) March 5, 2018
It seemed like the team got a energy boost from their presence before ultimately collapsing.
There is, of course, some irony of that road trip ending in a crushing Sixers loss, since RTRS represents the cross-section of the fan base that actually watched the team during the Process and fervently supported the Sam Hinkie rebuilding effort. Whatever your opinion of that may be, I think we can all appreciate the fact that another Philly team had traveling support in a road game. Think about the Eagles’ wins in California this year. Milwaukee ain’t sending 250 people to the Wells Fargo Center.
As for the game itself, I’ll give it a two word review: