Grading the Philadelphia 76ers First-Round Performances
The Philadelphia 76ers' first battle of the 2019 NBA Playoffs is officially in the books. With a 4-1 record over the Brooklyn Nets, the Sixers sent the sixth-seed packing and preparing to watch the rest of the postseason at home on the couch. Although the Sixers got off to a rough start in this year's postseason, the way they finished was impressive.
On Tuesday, the Sixers hosted the Nets with a 3-1 record and were attempting to do all they could to avoid taking the series back to Brooklyn. Philly seemed a bit overly confident heading into the matchup, but their confidence didn't change throughout the matchup. The Nets talked about wanting to keep it close, but they were buried from the beginning.
To put it lightly, the Sixers destroyed Brooklyn to close out the series. You know it's a blowout when the backups are getting valuable minutes starting in the third quarter. While the series had its close moments from the Sixers losing Game 1, to the dramatic brawl in Game 4, the Sixers had total control in the end and closed it out with class. As a team, the 76ers came together as one and proved why they were the higher seed. But putting all team accomplishments aside, how did each individual player perform?
Simmons got off to a slow start in the playoffs this year. After Game 1, it seemed as though Philly was ready to turn on the second-year guard. He played bad, and he didn't respond to the boo's very well. There was adversity that Simmons had to fight through, and he sure shut up his critics the following matchup.
During Game 2, Simmons notched a triple-double. Then, he followed that performance by putting up 31 points in Game 3 without Joel Embiid on the floor. Everybody can thank Jared Dudley for his comments on Simmons being average because that seemed to have motivated him to want to do a lot better and he did. Simmons has room for improvement (not a single three was attempted, yet again) but this guy is the truth.
SERIES GRADE: B
Last year, JJ Redick was the veteran acquisition from the Sixers' offseason that was supposed to come in and be the leader when it came down to tough postseason situations. He did a stable job then but didn't need to do as much now. Redick had his ups and downs throughout this series. As a three-point shooter, Redick is expected to knock them down consistently. He shot 42-percent beyond the arc, but he wasn't really creating too many opportunities for himself as he usually would.
While Redick's offensive performance was hot and cold throughout the series, he did flash some solid play on the defensive side of the ball, which typically isn't the case for Redick. But the veteran gave Brooklyn's Joe Harris a tough time after the first matchup. Despite being the NBA leader in three's, Harris was only able to drain 19-percent of his three-point shots during the entire series. His stats from beyond the arc over the last four games? A whopping 1-for-17. Redick was decent on defense, but his offense could've been a little more consistent at times.
SERIES GRADE: C+
Tobias Harris has had a strange stint with the Sixers since getting traded at the deadline. He started off hot in Philly, but eventually cooled down as the Sixers were preparing for their postseason run. Harris went into the series with a mindset where he was ready to prove to everybody he could be a cornerstone for a team, especially in the postseason.
Game 1 was a flop for Harris, like many other Sixers. But Game 2 and beyond showed exactly why Philly made a trade for him in the first place. Harris averaged 17-points-per-game and came up big in two critical matchups. One, he dropped 29 points during the game without Embiid on the floor. And two, he dropped 24 points in the tight win on the road after Jimmy Butler got ejected for fighting. The Sixers have a lot of talent, but if one of their top guys aren't available, Harris is viewed as somebody who should be able to get the job done without them. He did just that.
SERIES GRADE: B+
During that terrible Game 1 loss at home, Jimmy Butler seemed like he was the only one who wants it. He dropped a playoff career-high with 36 points and lived up to the hype of his past playoff performances. Although Butler wouldn't score more than 20 points for the rest of the series, he was still relevant to the Sixers based off of his veteran experience.
One thing that stood out in this series is the fact that Brett Brown decided to give Butler minutes at point guard. Brown tested it at times during the regular season, but he wouldn't commit to the idea. Well, Brown decided that enough was enough. Butler deserves the backup point guard minutes, and they are better off with him on the floor running the point, rather than having T.J. McConnell in the mix.
SERIES GRADE: B
What's a word to describe Joel Embiid in the playoffs this year? Oh yeah, dominant. He was flat out dominant. Despite playing with tendinitis in his knee, Embiid proved just how valuable he is to the Sixers. He missed one game, where fortunately the Sixers did well enough to win without him. But there were other games where I can't be so sure they come away with the victory without their big man.
Over his four games on the court, Embiid averaged just 24 minutes-per-game. During those 24 minutes, he's averaged 24 points-per-game, along with 13 rebounds per game. Embiid's averages don't even do him any justice. He was excellent, even though he wasn't at one-hundred percent health-wise.
SERIES GRADE: A+
OTHER KEY CONTRIBUTORS:
Boban Marjanovic - B
Mike Scott - C+
James Ennis - B-
Greg Monroe - C-
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