Laying Bricks – Observations from Tampa 110, Sixers 103

Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

They say the NBA is a “make or miss” league, and on Sunday night the Sixers did a lot of missing.

They missed 52 shots, nine free throws, and scored only 19 points in the fourth quarter, going seven-and-a-half minutes without a single basket in that period alone. They scored 11 points on 5-22 shooting in the fourth quarter and missed a pair of free throws that would have cut the lead to five with 1:36 remaining on the clock.

So no, they didn’t deserve to win, and it’s a disappointing performance for a team that featured its full starting lineup and held a couple of big leads in this game.

“We ended up getting great shots,” said Doc Rivers. “We just couldn’t make any. I thought in the 3rd and 4th quarter, (Joel Embiid) said walking off, ‘I had a hundred good looks tonight, the ball just wouldn’t go in.‘ There’s night’s like that, and I thought a lot of our guys had great looks. They just weren’t going in. I thought the misses started mounting up as far as how we were handling it. We have to do a better job of handling misses, because that’s gonna happen within a game.”

The Sixers laid enough bricks to build a four-story Philly brownstone. This was their second-worst shooting performance of the season, just going by straight field goal percentage.

The only game worse was early in the season, also against the Tampa Raptors, when they also shot below 40% from the field:

Toronto is a good defensive team, but we wouldn’t go crazy with that. Their defensive rating of 110.4 is tied for 12th, so they’re top-half league-wide, but they aren’t the Lakers or Jazz. Not even close. What they did well was make a lot of their own shots (49.4% from the floor, 41.2% from three), and set their defense off those makes.

Tobias Harris said as much.

“We got really good looks,” the Sixers’ forward admitted. “You have to give them credit, too. They were able to make a lot of their looks. That made us get more into the half court instead of getting out and running. We had good shots that we couldn’t make and they just didn’t fall for us tonight. They were able to get the free throw line and execute and get their looks off and make shots. It’s kind of the name of the game. It’s unfortunate and tough and we just have to bounce back.”

To those above points, the Sixers did miss a lot of wide-open shots. It’s not like they were heaving contested looks all game long, and the Sixers typically shoot well when wide open. According to the box score stats at NBA.com, the Sixers shot 13 for 46 on uncontested field goals, which amounts to 28.3%. Harris and Embiid were 2-17 in this area, which is about as bad as you can do with open looks. Ironically, they were 10-20 on contested field goals, which amounts to 50%.

NBA Stats also shares Second Spectrum data for how teams shoot based on defender distance. You find this when looking at the Sixers’ numbers:

  • defender 6+ feet away (wide open) – 44.% FG, sixth-best in NBA
  • defender 4-6 feet away (open) – 45.5% FG, seventh-best in NBA

So they’re typically very good at knocking down open shots on most nights, they just didn’t do it in this game.

Ice Cold Kork

Don’t look now, but Furkan Korkmaz had another 0-for night. He was zero for two from the field and has now hit just one of his last 16 threes dating back to the Portland road game. He only played two minutes Sunday night and his minutes are starting to go to Isaiah Joe, who isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire offensively, but has eclipsed Furkan on the other end.

“He’s playing well,” said Rivers of Joe. “I thought defensively, he was absolutely fantastic, and that’s what we need. This is not football. You gotta play both ways and be on offense and defense. So I thought he did that tonight.”

Is this temporary, or something consistent moving forward?

“It’s just a look,” Rivers added. “Everyone earns their minutes and it’s always a fair competition. Right now we’re going with Isaiah.”

Overall, the bench put in another dismal performance. The five guys comprising the “second unit” scored just 16 points in this game, nine of which came from the returning Shake Milton, who hasn’t played in some time and needs to knock off the rust.

They need a second unit scorer, and/or a stretch big, in a bad way. There’s just nobody on this team, outside of Milton, who can be consistent scoring option coming off the bench, and that just puts too much stress on the starting lineup to be on point every single night. We’d be naive to think that Embiid is gonna go for 30+ every time, and that Tobias Harris is going to fill the bucket each night, so they need at least one bench guy who can score and help maintain these leads that the starting unit builds.

Other notes:

  • In his last two games, Seth Curry is 3-12 from three and 6-23 from the floor.
  • The Sixers get to the line 26.9 times per game, which leads the league, but they’re only hitting 78.5% from the line, which is 12th. They’ve got to get that number up.
  • 37 three point attempts in this game is good. Much better. They should be in the 30s every game, because right now they shoot the third lowest number in the NBA.
  • Aggressive Ben Simmons is always the best Ben Simmons. He was really decisive in this game, finished through contact, and got to the foul line.
  • Only 15 fast break points in this game. They weren’t getting those early-transition threes they normally get.
  • They should beat the Raptors on a neutral floor without Kyle Lowry in the lineup. This isn’t the Toronto team of two seasons ago.
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