The Sixers’ Joel Embiid was right about the loss to Boston
Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic completely different people. Yes, they are MVP centers who were not raised in America, but the similarities largely stop there. One player is from Africa, the other from Europe. One player is the most physically dominant in the NBA, the other combines size, court vision and touch in an awkward ballet that always seems to result in points. Besides, one of them plays the Philadelphia 76ers and the other a Denver Nuggets. Two organizations that built teams, but only one still has a functioning structure.
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Statement from Embiid’s press conference after the 76ers’ 112-88 loss. Boston Celtics went viral. He was asked about James Harden’s future and his answer took almost two minutes. For those who would rather spend their Sundays honoring special women than tune in to an NBA press conference, these are the thoughts that angered much of America:
“James and I can’t win by ourselves,” Embiid told the media after declaring that he needs to be better. “We cannot win alone. That’s why basketball is played five-on-five. We just need everyone to try to find ways to be better and we’ll be fine.”
Jokić is a dazzling attacking player. The magnitude of his talent began to show in the 2019-2020 season. In the bubble playoffs, it was clear that he was as big a man as the NBA had ever seen. He won two MVPs, largely because of that he played basketball better than anyone in the NBA. Without talent, development and better fitness, he never would have won those MVPs, but it would have been much more difficult without the rosters the Nuggets put together.
Nikola Jokić has a lot more help
Even last season, when the Nuggets’ roster was decimated by injuries The four teammates of Jokić who accumulated the most minutes, two of them shot better than 35 percent from the three-point line. When the Nuggets shocked those who chose to watch the NBA playoffs during the 2020 summer of COVID, four Nuggets besides Jokić shot 40 percent or better from the 3-point line in the first round. Their shot numbers weren’t as flashy in the second round, but still four rotation players shot better than 35 percent.
During the 76ers’ 2023 loss to the Celtics The only 76ers starter to shoot better than 35 percent from three in the series was PJ Tucker, and he can only shoot in spurts from the corners. DeAnthony Melton and Georges Niang were the other two players who broke 35 percent for the 76ers.
While the Celtics poured three on the 76ers in the third quarter of their 112-88 victory in Game 7, they also outscored their opponents 33-10 during the frame. for Philly’s offense was unanswered. Lacking reliable shooting, Joe Mazzulla decided to put Robert Williams in the starting lineup in Game 6, clogging up not only the paint, but the 76ers’ offense as well.
The Embiid – The Harden pick and roll was less successful in that game and was a non-factor in Sunday’s second half. As much success as Harden has had with it throughout the series, in Game 7 he lacked confidence in his ability to convert near the rim. Embiid saw the Celtics’ wall at every turn, turning into Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2019.
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At the heart of the 76ers during those 10 years process As the NBA’s style of play has changed, they haven’t equipped their MVP with the necessary long-range threats to keep defenders away from him in the playoffs.
He led the NBA in scoring for two consecutive seasons. No center has been the scoring champion since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000. Embiid can muscle up and score points during the regular season, but when the opposing team analyzes him during a series, he realizes that it can shut him down and not worry about the rest of the team.
Tobias Harris is a starter-caliber NBA player, but he doesn’t command the defense at the 3-point line because he doesn’t shoot enough from there. Tyrese Maxey is a scoring threat who has shot over 40 percent from behind the arc in back-to-back regular seasons. However, the 2022–23 season was only his third in the NBA. Harden usually shoots well with volume from three, but there is no catch-and-shoot option.
Embiid wouldn’t be able to hit shooters like Jokić with touchdown passes even if the 76ers were better behind the 3-point line as a team. Still, if the Celtics felt they had to stick with the 76ers’ shooters, at least Embiid wouldn’t strip from every angle. If the Celtics were determined to let Tucker make as many 3-pointers as he wanted, even after going 3-5 in the first quarter, he could have had room to move from the mid post and down. three for the rest of the game.
In an NBA where space is paramount, forget Michael Porter Jr., where’s Embiid’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope? Where are the players the defense needs to respect so Embiid doesn’t see three bodies while stuck with the ball and no plan with seconds left on the shot clock?
Embiid struggled in key moments of the 2023 second-round loss to the 76ers, and yes, he’s dealing with a sprained knee. He’s not the first MVP to struggle in the playoffs, and he won’t be the last. Still, his worst moments were when he hesitated. Those moments came too often against the Celtics. A 7-foot-3, nearly 300-pound player who averaged 33.1 points per game on 54.8 percent shooting during the regular season shouldn’t be getting choked up in the most important games on a regular basis.
As he said, he needs to improve, but so does this team. Maxey will continue to improve while Harden may not be on the team next spring. But for Embiid to have a postseason like Jokić’s in 2023, the 76ers will have to find a way to make room for their MVP. Those changes won’t result in any highlight-reel passes, but they should give you peace of mind that the 76ers’ offense will never again be as pathetic as it was in the third quarter on Sunday.