What a day for the Sixers.
It started with ten bazillion Kyle Lowry rumors, most of which were wrong. But full credit to Anthony Gargano, because he was among the first local media members to say the team was out on Lowry and would be going in another direction instead.
Put these other reporters in the bagster!
Then, after the George Hill trade, Daryl Morey spoke to the media, Dwight Howard got ejected in Los Angeles, and Danny Green went off on his former team, like the basketball version of Assassin’s Creed, in a 109 to 101 victory.
There’s a lot to process. Let’s just go in chronological order, and I’ll present you with some bullet points from Morey’s Zoom call with reporters, which took place before Thursday night’s late-night, West Coast game:
- Doc Rivers loves the team and how they’re playing. Morey does as well: “We feel very good about the roster we have and our chances to win the championship. Doc had some comments recently about looking for a two-way guard… that’s what we got with George”
- On the buyout market: “It’s early… really at this point some of the players you can’t get feedback on, but I feel pretty good that someone who coach Rivers thinks will help us will be available.”
- on George Hill’s thumb injury: Oklahoma City doctors says he’s fine and expect him to be “full tilt” by the playoffs, Sixers medical staff hasn’t had a chance to evaluate him yet… “I don’t want to give a time line, but it’s not long.”
- Hill chose to have surgery to fix his thumb, which lengthened his recovery but ensured there would be no future complications.
- RE: Kyle Lowry – “I can’t specifically address a player on another team… lot of speculation blah blah blah, we’re very excited about the option we ended up with… we took an option we thought really upgraded our team this year and kept our optionality alive in the future“
- “On Tony Bradley, who was sent to OKC: “Tony Bradley gave us amazing minutes and helped us through the stretch without Embiid this year… didn’t want to lose Tony, but key part of deal to help get this done”
- If the Sixers enter the buyout market, they’ll be looking for a big.
- Morey thinks that more should be written about Doc Rivers and the job he’s done coaching this team.
- He reiterated a few times that they really wanted a “two-way,” guard, i.e. someone who can shoot and defend without having to sub offense/defense late in games.
- Morey said the market was a little “less” this year because teams knew the Sixers were playing well and obviously weren’t going to be trading any of their best players.
My overarching takeaway is that the Sixers appear to be higher on their squad than a portion of the fan base, and I’m with Morey and Rivers on this one. Yes, it’s 100% fair to ask how the Sixers are going to match up with Brooklyn’s elite scorers in a playoff series, but you also have to ask the Nets how they’re going to handle a Philadelphia team scoring 115 points a night. They have no one to guard Embiid or eat the fouls he’s going to draw. I think it’s a much more even matchup than what others would have you believe.
Now, to the game
The Howard ejection generated a lot of buzz on social, and this is probably the best angle you’re going to get, because it shows him walking into Montezl Harrell as both teams were going to their benches:
Dwight Howard was just ejected because of this…
What on earth?!?! pic.twitter.com/2EA90dBkDG
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) March 26, 2021
This was a TNT broadcast, so we got Doc Rivers at the break, and for the first time in the history of sports, the in-game interview provided something worthwhile:
Doc Rivers on the Dwight Howard and Montrezl Harrell altercation pic.twitter.com/oXKBsHOIJf
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 26, 2021
This is such a ‘nothing’ sequence, isn’t it? There’s barely any contact. The Harrell shove isn’t much of a shove at all. It’s just one of those things where you wish the refs would let them play on instead of having to insert themselves over nada. You don’t always have to whistle for double techs as the knee-jerk reaction to every minor dust up.
“I just thought it was a very selfish play,” Rivers said after the game. “You got one tech, you can’t get another. We just have to have better discipline. I know there was a lot of emotion, but we had one center on our team and he got thrown out. I was not happy with that one. I know it’s an emotional game, but he’s a veteran and we have to have better discipline.”
Harrell was also asked about it after the game, and basically said he wasn’t going to let somebody “big boy” him and be disrespectful on the court.
And Rivers it right; is was dumb on Howard’s part, because with Embiid out, and Bradley traded along with Vincent Poirier, they had zero depth at the center position. G League MVP Paul Reed was thrown into the fire to help cover, despite having very little familiarity with his teammates and the defensive coverages.
“Paul was great, other than that three with 19 seconds on the clock in the fourth quarter,” Rivers laughed. “But it was tough for him, because we haven’t used him at the five ever. He didn’t know any of the coverages and that put him in a tough spot. The only offensive play he knew was our one set, ‘delay,’ which is what they ran for him in the G League. So we started running that for him and got two layups out of it.”
Don’t trade me
We knew it was coming, right?
After Danny Green’s name was thrown out there in every Sixers trade rumor, he would obviously go out and light up his former squad after making it through the deadline, unscathed.
Green finished 8-12 from three and 9-14 from the field. He was the game’s highest scorer and added five rebounds, a steal, and two blocks while hitting that dagger with 30 seconds remaining, to put the team up six.
Oh yea, and he also got his championship ring.
“It was kind of comical just thinking about it,” Green said of his adventurous Thursday. “But I don’t panic, I don’t worry, and I don’t stress. I’ve been in this game long enough and been around the league long enough to know how the business goes. What happens happens. I just make the best of it and let the chips fall where they may. I was one week away from getting my Toronto ring and still have yet to get that one, so it’ll be two years now. It could have been a few days away, or one hour away from getting this ring, if I was to get traded, and would have had to wait another whole year.”
If you’re keeping track, Green has now lit up former teams several times this season. He scored 28 in this game and went for 14 and six in the first Lakers game, with LeBron and AD both playing. He shot 57% from three against the Spurs two weeks ago and had a pair of steals and pair of blocks to go along with seven points in an early-season win against the Raptors.
“I think I did a podcast with Rudy Gay a few years ago (about this topic), and he said you’re either going to go for 50 or you’re going to get five,” laughed Green. “Either it’s a great night or one of the worst nights in the world, and that’s how it goes when it’s a range of emotions. It’s unfortunate the fans weren’t able to be there, because it would have been cool to receive the ring in front of them and play in front of them, but to be able to do this and not be in the bubble anymore is an emotional relief.”
And here’s the thing about Green –
He’s an older veteran. Guy has been here before, and recently. A lot of people seemed very keen on just dumping him in a salary match, but there’s something to be said for that playoff savvy and experience. He literally has to do nothing but take catch-and-shoot three pointers and play defense in the postseason, and let the superstars do their thing. There’s always going to be value in giving complementary roles to veterans who are proven winners.