Wednesday’s Sixers game was admittedly pretty boring, played at four in the afternoon against a Washington Wizards team that probably shouldn’t be in the bubble in the first place.
Your local squad won the game 107-98, and if we’re going ‘Posidelphia’ this morning, it’s worth pointing out that Joel Embiid has looked very good passing out of double teams, which is something he’s struggled with in the past.
Embiid had three assists Wednesday evening, one of which was a nearside outlet off a double team. The other two were cross-court passes, also out of doubles. In three turnovers, he committed two offensive fouls and lost the ball on the drive, so the takeaway there is that he did not cough it up trying to play out of a 1v2.
Check out these three plays:
Anything stand out to you in those clips?
To me it’s the early recognition. The feel of the second defender and quicker decisions to read and react. Sometimes, in the past, Embiid would spin out of those low block doubles toward the baseline and fire up shots, or he’d wait so long that he’d cough the ball up, but you didn’t see that on those assists. They were sharp and decisive.
Said Brett Brown about it afterward:
What I feel like he’s doing better than he’s ever done is he’s passing out of the post at a highly-efficient rate. I think the turnovers in previous years and fourth periods, where fatigue has set in and it gets a little bit sloppy – I think he’s delivered. I think he’s strong with his decisions out of the post in general and I especially see it more in crunch time play than I don’t. He has to get credit for coming in here with the fitness base that we talked about. I think there’s carryover from the work he’s done in what I’ve seen so far.
It’s true. Conditioning plays a role in sloppy passing and decision making, because you’re tired, you’re sluggish, and you’re trying to match your brain to your body in high-stakes, late-game situations.
Al Horford was also asked about Embiid’s post passing in general:
I think he’s getting better at it, starting to feel it out a little bit more and making the right plays. He’s either going to score quick or he’s passing it out. I just think he’s getting better at it, and that’s great for our group.
I went back and looked through Embiid’s assists (12) and turnovers (11) from the first three bubble games, and found the following:
- seven assists passing out of double teams
- one assist off a half dig/half double
- one assist on an inside look for Ben Simmons
- two assists in transition (one of these was just a handoff to Simmons)
- four offensive foul turnovers
- one lost ball turnover
- three bad pass turnovers
- one step out of bounds turnover
- one traveling turnover
- one ball out of bounds turnover (just took his eye off the ball and bobbled a pass)
The great news is that only one of those bad pass turnovers was thrown out of a double team, and that was in the fourth quarter against the Spurs. Compare that to seven assists passing out of doubles, and Sixers fans should feel really good about this development.
This Sixers team has been all over the place since resuming play, but if Joel Embiid stays fit and healthy and makes smart decisions with the ball, they can go a lot further than perhaps they should.