“We Didn’t Come to Play” – Observations from Nets 122, Sixers 109

Photo Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Well that was gross.

The Sixers looked sloppy and somewhat disinterested, while Brooklyn, already down Kevin Durant and Spencer Dinwiddie, seemed energized to play without Kyrie Irving, who took this game off for “personal reasons.” Head coach Steve Nash didn’t even know why his superstar guard wasn’t playing.

The result was a 13-point loss in which the Sixers turned the ball over 20 times. Ben Simmons shot 4-13. Shake Milton and Tyrese Maxey scored 40 of the team’s points. They started slowly, clawed their way into the game, and just didn’t seem to have enough juice to be competitive throughout.

“We didn’t come to play,” Doc Rivers said after the loss. “That’s what I saw. It was one of those games, we played (Wednesday) night I guess, and it was disappointing. You’ve got three of their top five players out. We had a couple of guys out too, obviously, but that’s an extremely winnable game, doesn’t matter where you’re playing. That’s what we were in the past, when you show up on the road, you don’t have focus, you’re not ready to play basketball and you deserve to lose the game. That’s I told them, that we deserved to lose the game, and we did.”

Afterward, we learned that Seth Curry, who didn’t play because of an ankle issue, had tested positive for COVID-19, and now the Sixers are isolating in New York as we undergo further testing and contact tracing. So 24 hours ago we had a 7-1 basketball team that was firing on all cylinders, and now they’re 7-2 with COVID concerns in the player and coaching ranks.

Life comes at you fast? Yeah, it does.

This game is hardly worth writing about, so let’s do an exercise instead. It’s a question I’d like you, the reader, to consider:

Who benefits from playing back-to-back games in the NBA?

Surely it’s not the players, who have to travel, sleep in a hotel, and then get themselves into game readiness in less than 24 hours.

Surely it’s not the coaches, who have to travel, sleep in a hotel, and then enter the fantastic territory of load management and depleted rosters.

Surely it’s not the fans, who are oftentimes watching tired teams on short turnaround, teams that are missing one or more key players in games that turn out to not be very competitive.

It’s not beneficial to any of those parties, but it makes the NBA money. It’s another chance to put butts in seats and sell beers and hot dogs. It’s another chance for broadcasters to shove ads into commercial breaks, which means that more games = higher costs for television rights. The schedule is crammed this way because it makes the league and owners money, but it does nothing beneficial for the player, coach, or fan. It’s not a good product.

Ben Simmons takes a three

Ben totally bricked an air ball in the second quarter:

This is fine. This is absolutely fine. He stepped right into this shot, looked confident doing it, and didn’t hesitate. The alternative here is that Jeff Green stands six feet off, concedes the space, and then Simmons drives and kicks, or just passes the ball to somebody else instead.

Part of the reason why we want Ben to become a respectable shooter is because he has insane potential for attacking close outs. If defenders need to start addressing him at the three point line, or anywhere above the nail, Simmons can very easily attack the lane. It’s not a make or break kind of thing, the three-point shooting, but it adds new layers to his game and can unlock some more offensive options for him.

Other notes:

  • Rivers said he thought the performance was “more of a focus thing, than a fatigue thing.”
  • The quick timeout to start the second half, Rivers said he didn’t like how they executed a play. “I don’t think we’re a great executing team,” he said.
  • 20 turnovers actually was not a season high. They committed 21 in the Cleveland loss and 21 in the January 2nd Charlotte win.
  • Milton and Maxey played well. Only bright spot. Maxey had a career-high 16 on 7-12 shooting and Milton poured in 24 as Curry’s replacement in the starting lineup. That’s a season-high for Shake, who played 36 minutes.
  • The Nets’ bench pulled down eight offensive rebounds, and only two were from DeAndre Jordan. You had small guards scooping up balls and hitting the glass.
  • Brooklyn’s uniforms were pretty cool.
  • Simmons was all over the place in this game.
  • Embiid was mostly playing for contact and trying to get to the foul line by throwing his arms and body into defenders. He was off his game as well.
  • Tobias Harris had 17 points on 7-16 shooting, but I thought he looked tired. He badly front-rimmed a couple of longer shots and just didn’t seem to have his legs under him.

Happy Friday. Let us never speak of this game again.

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