Sixers get both ends of shooting luck spectrum, lack pride in blowout loss to Knicks: Likes and dislikes
The Sixers (23-10) hosted the New York Knicks (19-15) on Friday. Philadelphia wanted to build on Wednesday's victory over the Bulls. New York wanted to push its winning streak to three games. The Sixers couldn't get out of their own way all night long as the Knicks made it rain in a 128-92 beatdown.
Before we get to what I saw, some notes.
The Knicks were without the services of Mitchell Robinson, who is likely out for the rest of the season as he recovers from left ankle surgery.
Duane Washington Jr., Jacob Toppin, and Charlie Brown Jr. are on two-way G League assignments with the Westchester Knicks and were not available.
Tom Thibodeau started Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, OG Anunoby, Julius Randle, and Isaiah Hartenstein.
The Sixers were without the services of De'Anthony Melton, who has a sore lumbar spine.
Robert Covington missed the game with a left knee effusion.
Furkan Korkmaz was out with an illness.
Kenneth Lofton Jr., Ricky Council IV, and Terq Smith are on two-way G League assignments with the Delaware Blue Coats and were not available.
Nick Nurse started Tyrese Maxey, Kelly Oubre Jr., Nico Batum, Tobias Harris, and Joel Embiid.
- You've heard of the showtime Lakers, but have you heard of the showtime Sixers? Those in attendance were treated to some clinical transition offense on Friday, Philadelphia taking advantage of loose handles and missed shots from New York to get out and run.
A sizable chunk of Philadelphia's offense in the first six minutes of the game came courtesy of Hail Mary outlet passes spanning the majority of the court or fast two-and-three-man weave movement up the court as the Knicks reeled to get back. I'm not exaggerating when I say the offense was as simple as that. The Knicks were asleep, and the Sixers mauled them for not getting back in transition. Fun viewing experience, if nothing else.
- One of the ways the gritty Knicks will hurt you is if you don't execute on the glass. That means failing to communicate with your teammates when the shot goes up. Why? Because Josh Hart is one of the best rebounders on the wings in the league. He's made a living out of crashing into unattended spaces to steal offensive rebounds away from inattentive defensive players.
That's what he and his teammates did to the Sixers to fight back into the game and take the lead late in the first quarter. Philadelphia thought they'd secured stops before they actually had, and the Knicks capitalized on that foolishness to give themselves extra bites at the apple.
- Speaking of ending possessions by securing the glass, the Sixers also did a poor job of starting defensive possessions in transition at the end of the first quarter. Whether it be live turnovers or missed shots, the Sixers weren't focused on getting back. That was when New York's Miles McBride absolutely caught fire, lacing transition threes to send the momentum towards the blue and orange.
- One of the big problems Philadelphia faced that started a chain reaction on both ends of the floor was New York's timing on introducing a third layer of pressure on Embiid. The reigning MVP had 16 points and four rebounds at halftime. A down night for him, but actually impressive when you consider the context that the Knicks were putting two or three guys on him every time he touched the ball. But, even with a solid scoring output in the first half, he had weaknesses.
The Knicks brought a second helper into the mix after Embiid made his move towards the basket, securing the big man's commitment to his attack before sending the extra blue jersey to make a play on the ball. Embiid got blocked and committed a couple turnovers trying to navigate that pressure. But, more than anything, the Knicks made it physically very difficult for him to get going because the added pressure turned would-be shots into passes, and the Sixers weren't hitting in the first half.
With the Knicks flat-out refusing to let Embiid shoulder the load, the offense stalled, and the Knicks got out and ran.
- As bad as the Sixers were in the first half, a real element of their 20-point halftime deficit was inverted shooting. While Embiid had little choice but to pass to wide-open teammates because the Knicks wanted anyone else but the big man to beat them, his teammates simply struggled to make shots.
The Knicks, on the other hand, couldn't miss. Some of the looks were very clear. But, others were quite deep or contested well. Didn't matter. Just as absurd shooting luck helped the Sixers pummel the Bulls and secure a victory by the end of the first quarter on Wednesday, the basketball gods decided that the Sixers would receive some shooting misfortune on Friday. That's not the whole story of why the Sixers got their butts kicked in the first half. But, sometimes, all you can do is tip your cap when guys make tough shots.
- Harris left the game in the third quarter with a sore ankle and did not return. Obviously, you hope he's alright. But, it was up there amongst his worst games of the season. It appeared as though the Sixers drew up a play for him to get a shot inside out of a timeout in the third quarter, and he got fouled. But, Harris missed both freebies. He then lost a ball off his leg in transition, ending a possession for Philadelphia at a time when they desperately needed some offense. That, of course, came in conjunction with a bundle of misses at the rim for Harris. When it rains, it absolutely pours.
- You could tell Philadelphia's heads were in the clouds when they stepped to the line and missed a handful of free throws in the third quarter. I'm not talking about half-down-and-out misses. I'm talking about misses that were way off the mark. For a team that is usually very good at the charity stripe, that tells me you weren't focused.
- New York only scored 18 points in the third quarter, and still led by 17 going into the game's final frame. That was the level of waste the Sixers cooked up on offense for most of this game. And so, even with the Sixers suffering from both extremes of the shooting luck spectrum, they did themselves no favors and spent the fourth quarter trying to help Embiid extend his streak of games with 30 points and 10 rebounds.
This was a rare national television game for the Sixers, and they effectively soiled themselves into submission and then stat-padded while a building filled with New Yorkers shook with Knicks chants. A total humiliation, with no signs of pride in sight.
The Sixers (23-11) will host the Utah Jazz (16-20) on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Eastern time. You can catch the action on NBC Sports Philadelphia.
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