76ers, Doc Rivers were plagued by familiar problems in loss to upstart Hawks

76ers, Doc Rivers were plagued by familiar problems in loss to upstart Hawks

In some ways, the Philadelphia 76ers had been a brand new staff this season. They’d a brand new coach, a brand new lead voice within the entrance workplace and a roster comprised of a number of contemporary faces. However, when push got here to shove within the postseason towards the Atlanta Hawks, the Sixers had been suffering from a number of acquainted issues.


Turnovers have been a difficulty for the Sixers for the previous a number of seasons. Beneath former head coach Brett Brown, the Sixers lead the league in turnovers through the 2017-18 season with 16.5 per recreation. They improved barely the next season and completed twenty fifth with 14.9 per recreation.

Final season, they climbed all the best way as much as tenth within the NBA (14.2 per recreation), however then they dropped again all the way down to twenty first this season (14.4) beneath new coach Doc Rivers. Sure, these are common season stats, however common season play is the most effective predictor of postseason efficiency. That’s why it’s not so stunning that Philly’s looseness with the basketball got here again to harm them towards Atlanta.

Within the 4 video games that the Sixers dropped within the sequence, they misplaced the turnover battle. That’s not a coincidence.

  • In Recreation 1, they’d 19 turnovers in comparison with 15 for Atlanta and the Hawks ended up successful by 4, 128-124
  • In Recreation 4, the Sixers had 3 times as many turnovers as Atlanta (12 to 4) and Philadelphia misplaced that recreation by three
  • In Recreation 5, the Hawks received the turnover battle 15-11 and received the competition by three
  • Lastly, in Recreation 7, the Sixers dedicated 17 turnovers, whereas the Hawks dedicated simply 10, and Atlanta received the sport by seven

All 4 of Philadelphia’s losses within the sequence had been by single-digits, and turnovers could possibly be pointed to as a significant component in every loss. Specifically, Joel Embiid’s struggles with turnovers most likely gave Sixers followers flashbacks of earlier postseasons. Embiid has struggled with turnover points all through his profession, however he has gotten higher at caring for the ball. He averaged a profession low 3.1 turnovers per recreation through the season, however that quantity elevated to three.8 through the playoffs.

Within the final three video games of the sequence towards Atlanta, Embiid had 21 whole turnovers, lots of which got here at extraordinarily inopportune occasions — like this one which got here with the Sixers trailing by 4 with beneath a minute remaining in Recreation 7: 

Embiid carries a big load on the offensive finish for Philadelphia, and he deserves credit score for enjoying via a torn meniscus this postseason. However as a staff’s go-to man, you merely can’t lose the ball in a scenario like that. That play mainly ended any hope that the Sixers had of successful Recreation 7 and increasing their season. 

Taking higher care of the basketball ought to once more be a significant focus for Philadelphia heading into subsequent season.  

Doc Rivers’ postseason struggles adopted him to Philadelphia  

Doc Rivers is a well-respected coach, however he has had his fair proportion of struggles within the postseason. Heading into his first season with the Sixers, Rivers had garnered a popularity for playoff collapses. He’s the one coach in NBA historical past whose groups have blown 3-1 playoff leads on three separate events.

After the Clippers turned the third staff coached by Rivers to take action final season, Paul George criticized him for a scarcity of changes. 

“Doc was attempting to play me as a Ray Allen or a JJ Redick, all pin-downs. I can do it, however that ain’t my recreation,” George mentioned on the time. “I want some circulation, I want some mixes of some pick-and-roll, and submit ups…That final season was onerous.” 

These postseason struggles adopted Rivers to Philly. The Sixers’ loss in Recreation 7 to Atlanta was Rivers’ fourth straight loss in a Recreation 7, which is tied for the longest streak in NBA historical past. It was additionally Rivers’ twenty ninth general loss with an opportunity to clinch a playoff sequence, which is probably the most by a head coach in league historical past. 

Rivers made loads of questionable choices concerning his rotation towards Atlanta, and after main 2-1 within the sequence after which blowing 18-plus level leads in each Video games 4 and 5, the top-seeded Sixers loss to the fifth-seeded Hawks will go down as one other blemish on Rivers’ resume, even when he doesn’t view it that manner. 

A scarcity of perimeter creation  

If there’s been one constant gap in Philadelphia’s roster building over the previous a number of seasons, it’s the shortage of perimeter creation — guys that may house the ground and make performs by beating their main defender and stepping into the paint or working out of the pick-and-roll. The significance of that function turns into amplified within the postseason when the tempo slows down and defenses are extraordinarily targeted. Simply have a look at Trae Younger, who had a area day towards the Sixers in that function within the semifinals, as he was in a position to constantly make performs for Atlanta down the stretch of video games, whereas the Sixers had robust time getting attractiveness late in video games. The Hawks outscored the Sixers 40-19 within the fourth quarter of their Recreation 5 victory, and 23-18 within the last quarter of their win in Recreation 4. 

Embiid is great, and he was the MVP runner-up for good cause. However it’s robust for him to ascertain himself late in video games typically, as he’s reliant on one other participant to ship him the ball and defenses can load up on him and deny entry passes. Ideally, Embiid can be paired with a dynamic perimeter participant in a position to generate his personal offense on the drop of a hat. The kind of man you may give the ball to in isolation and say “hey, go get us a bucket.” For all of the issues that Ben Simmons does nicely, he isn’t that man.

The Sixers have tried to handle this concern previously. They drafted Markelle Fultz with the primary general choose in 2017 to be that dynamic combo guard that might play alongside Simmons, both with or with out the ball. That clearly didn’t pan out. Then Philly traded for Jimmy Butler — and he had a strong stint with the Sixers — however the two sides separated after a single season. Since then, that gap has remained unfilled. 

It’s not a coincidence that two of Philadelphia’s three wins within the sequence had been buoyed by large play from bench guards. In Recreation 2 it was Shake Milton who helped the Sixers safe a win, and in Recreation 6 it was rookie Tyrese Maxey. When these guys are at their greatest, they supply the Sixers with the kind of perimeter creation that they want alongside Embiid and Simmons, whose lack of capacity as a floor-spacer makes one other perimeter playmaker a necessity within the first place. So long as Embiid and Simmons are the principle constructing blocks on the staff, the Sixers must make surrounding them with high-level guard play a precedence. 

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