Gave it a Good Effort – Observations from Suns 116, Sixers 113

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

There’s not much to take from this game, is there? Not a ton to analyze.

The short-handed Sixers fell to the full-strength Suns at home on Wednesday night, playing Monty Wiliams’ 42-win team down to the wire without Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Tobias Harris.

They almost tied it on a ridiculous one-handed heave at the buzzer from Joel Embiid, which would have been one of the most outrageous shots in NBA history had it gone down:

Crazy. It was halfway down before spinning out!

Look at this freeze frame:

Good lord. So close. I would kill to get a Stuart Scott Sports Center call of that play.

Anyway, Embiid had 38 and 17 in the loss. The Sixers shot the ball well, too, going 51% from the floor and 52% from three, but only hitting at 69% from the foul line, which bit them in the ass. They also gave up some wide open three-pointers to Jevon Carter, who did not play for an offensive powerhouse in college, and Devin Booker awoke from his slumber with a late dagger, too. If they got something at all from Shake Milton, or had one of Harris or Simmons as an extra defender, maybe this one goes down as a win instead of a loss.

There’s not much worth rehashing from a game in which the Sixers played without three starters, so let’s toss it to Doc Rivers instead for his thoughts on some topics.

On Shake Milton

“He’s just gotta play better. It happens. I think he was a -17. You have games like that. You have a couple of games like that. We still trust him and I still believe in him. I know he’s going to help us out. It’s a long season, and when you’re struggling we have other guys who can come in and help us, and that’s what happened tonight.

Matisse Thybulle’s defense on Devin Booker

“I thought he was unbelievable overall. I thought he chased him to exhaustion. It’s a hard job, and I don’t know if anybody’s done a better job on Devin. Devin is tough. Think about that last shot he made (the off balance running baseline jumper). Most of his shots were those type of shots. I think Devin probably got a couple of baskets when Matisse wasn’t on him, but Matisse was phenomenal tonight.”

On playing the Bucks tonight, and whether Curry/Harris/Simmons return

“I have no idea. I’m hoping a few are back. I don’t know if all of them will be back. Unfortunately we’re going through this at a key point, but it’s nothing you can control.”

Will Simmons make the trip?

“I think so, but I don’t know. If he’s not feeling great with the flu and all of that, I don’t know if I want him on the plane? Do you want to sit next to him? You know what I mean? We’ll wait and see. But if he’s feeling bad, I think rest is more important, I’ll tell you that.”

Thoughts on the short-handed performance?

“I thought we played hard. I thought we got crushed in transition again, that one stretch. We played small a lot tonight, which I liked overall. That helped Joel with spacing. I like how we played but I want to win the game. I know we have a lot of guys out but I want to win, and I told our guys that.”

George Hill adding defensive bite in the fourth quarter

“Yeah defensively we have a chance down the stretch of games to get stops. It comes down to single possessions. The good news with that (closing group) is that they can all score. Matisse is more of a cutter, but everybody else can score for us in different ways. It’s not a bad group, for sure.”

Reaction to Embiid’s eight turnovers

“I know we definitely forced a couple through double teams, which we have to get away from. He also had the ball in his hands a lot, and sometimes too much. We have to keep playing through everybody else as well. But shoot, I’ll take his numbers overall.”

Other notes:

  • Tyrese Maxey continues to play well. 14/3/3 last night in 31 minutes off the bench. He’s now played more than 15 minutes in four of the last five games.
  • Milton’s numbers are way down over the last three. 6-24 from the field, 19 points, 11 turnovers. He’s out of sorts completely, but he’s snapped out of the funks at other points in the season.
  • Danny Green with another good shooting night. 7-14 from the floor, 4-7 from three. People were ready to run him out of town earlier in the year but if he’s defending and hitting shots and making veteran plays, that’s all that is required of him.
  • Furkan Korkmaz is averaging 12/2/2 in April. His defense is improved, but is it good enough to get him into a round two postseason rotation? We’ll see.
  • No Anthony Tolliver or Bball Paul minutes.
  • George Hill: 11 points on 4-5 shooting, 2-2 from three, two assists, and a rebound. Once he gets going and shakes off the rust he’s going to be a very nice addition to this team.
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