Bad Sixers loss on Saturday night. Joel Embiid tried to be Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Butler pick and rolled himself into a shot clock violation, which I actually do not think was his fault.
All teams suffer crap losses (the Mavericks beat the Warriors by 35 on the same night), but this one was particularly egregious, considering that the Sixers had two days of rest and the Hawks aren’t great, even though they’ve been a better team since the All-Star break.
I tried not to, but I typed “Brett Brown” into the Twitter search bar around 9:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“Fire Brett Brown.
#Sixers #76ers enough is enough. This dude is the least inventive coach in the world. He doesn’t know how to utltize the talent he has on the team. The players individually carry the team… Brett Brown offers nothing! We lost to the Bulls… and now Hawks!”
“Brett Brown is a horrible late game coach. Just because Jimmy Butler is a closer doesn’t mean he has to close every game. Take advantage of matchups. Post up Joel and draw fouls. Can’t lose games like this. Got to be smarter. Bad coaching as always.
This isn’t a Brett Brown article, though I would agree that Joel Embiid needed to see more of the ball Saturday night. 11 field goal attempts in 35 minutes is waaaaay too few for him.
But I think the second tweeter is being a bit near-sighted, since Brett did exactly what he’s talking about in the Boston game. He identified the small forward/power forward pick and roll that isolated Kyrie Irving on Jimmy Butler and resulted in the Sixers executing on a number of late game possessions in one of their most important wins of the season.
In the Hawks game, they did the exact same thing to Trae Young at the 1:08 mark, which resulted in this, after the jump:
That’s your biggest mismatch available, getting Butler on Young. This is what won them the game against Boston, isolating Butler on a weak perimeter defender.
So they tried doing it again on the next half court offensive possession, not the quick outlet and Butler free throws, but the shot clock violation which went like this:
24 second shot clock violation by the Sixers in the clutch pic.twitter.com/oQKm4d5MmA
— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) March 24, 2019
The Hawks played it differently.
They didn’t switch there. They doubled Butler by taking John Collins off Ben Simmons and leaving him unguarded in the corner, and that’s where Ben’s inability to shoot the ball makes him a huge liability down the stretch if he’s not a ball-handler or screener.
Look at this:
Simmons and Tobias Harris have to recognize that and show to the ball, instead of letting Butler just flail around trying to shed that double team to get a shot off. In a micro sense, that’s on the players. NBA players should be able to see that in real time and adjust. In a macro sense, Brett has to think about Ben as a non-threat when he’s shoved in the corner on these late game pick and roll and iso sets. Jimmy also has to see where the second defender is coming from and identify where the Sixers’ 2v1 is.
But the article is more about putting things in perspective, because I feel like Sixers Twitter overreacts to every loss and under-reacts to every win. That’s Philly in general, but it seems like it’s more amplified in basketball for some reason.
- The Sixers are 47-26 and on pace to win more games than they won last season
- They are 6-1 over their last seven games, with wins against Indiana, Boston, and Milwaukee
- The wins over the Celtics and Bucks really helped combat the idea that they just can’t get over the hump against the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
- They will be the #3 seed in the playoffs. They are 2.5 games ahead of Indy with the tiebreaker and they are 4.5 ahead of Boston, who just lost their fourth straight game.
- They are not catching Toronto and Milwaukee and never were catching either of those teams. If anything, the Raptors had the better shot at jumping the banged-up Bucks, which I don’t think is going to happen now. That would have set up a 2/3 Sixers/Milwaukee series, which I personally think benefits Philly.
- The current starting lineup has played fewer than 10 games together.
- The Sixers were not going to win 16 in a row to close out the season.
- This time last year, Joel Embiid was going through the broken face and Phantom of the Opera mask routine. Now he’s healthy.
- This time last year, four of five Sixers starters had zero postseason experience. This year, all five starters have playoff experience.
- This time last year, the head coach had never coached a playoff game. That is no longer the case.
- This time last year, the playoff bench was Marco Belinelli, Ersan Ilyasova, and T.J. McConnell. This season, it’s James Ennis, Mike Scott, and Boban if you get a favorable matchup. It’s not amazing, but I think it’s a slight defensive improvement over what you had off the pine last year.
Let’s keep it positive for now. There’s way too much negative Sixers talk out there, considering that this team is gonna win 50 games for the second straight year, which is something they haven’t done since the mid-1980s.
Brett Brown was never getting fired in the middle of the season. Surely you had to know that. We’ll see how this team does in the playoffs, and if they get trounced 4-2 or 4-1 against Toronto or Milwaukee, we can talk about Brett’s future then, but enough with the knee-jerk overreaction to every loss. This team is on a good trajectory and they will enter the playoffs with a chance to make the Eastern Conference Finals.
Try to enjoy the ride, or else what’s the point of even watching sports in the first place?