Pros and Cons: Sixers vs. Heat
Pros and Cons after Sixers-Heat.
Adam Aaronson, whose legal name is Sixers Adam (@SixersAdam on Twitter), covers the Sixers for The Rights To Ricky Sanchez. He believes cantaloupe is the best food in existence, and is brought to you by the Official Realtor of The Process, Adam Ksebe.
Entering tonight winners of eight of their last nine contests, the Sixers traveled to Miami to face the Heat in the second game of a home-road back-to-back. Here’s what’s on my mind tonight:
Pro: Joel Embiid, as durable as ever
I’m not breaking any news when I say that everything that has to do with this team starts and ends with Embiid. He is at the center of every signing, every trade, every piece of on-court strategy and anything else you can think of.
Throughout his playing career, that fact has frequently come back to bite the Sixers. Embiid’s career has been flooded with various injuries and ailments. But outside of the time he missed due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, he has played in all but two games.
Tonight, Embiid was questionable to play with an elbow injury, but he ultimately suited up. The appearance marked Embiid’s 22nd game played in the team’s last 23 contests -- and a feat just as impressive is that he’s averaged nearly 34 minutes per game during that stretch entering tonight.
Of course, in a perfect world the Sixers would like to chop that 34 number down a bit. And for someone of Embiid’s stature -- both figurative and literal -- rest days aren’t a bad thing. But it’s hard not to be pleasantly surprised by the durability Embiid has shown this season. Let’s cross our fingers that this is a sign of things to come.
Con: Danny Green: not as durable
“It’s just been one of those years,” Doc Rivers said regarding Green’s health — or lack thereof — this season. The 34-year old wing has been battered with injuries all season, and is now dealing with a hip injury.
Assuming Green also misses Monday’s game against the Wizards -- which seems like a reasonable expectation at this point -- it will be his fourth absence of at least three consecutive games.
Health issues aside, Green hasn’t quite reached his prior level of productivity during this season. It stands to reason that this is largely due to his aging, but being in and out of the active roster all year certainly can’t help.
Additionally, Green has been in and out of the starting lineup, now looking like he’s going to be a reserve long-term with Matisse Thybulle and Furkan Korkmaz being candidates to start based on matchups.
The Sixers were lucky to be able to retain Green last summer on a two-year deal in which the second year is non-guaranteed. We’re very far away from the team deciding whether or not to trade or waive Green, but as his reliability wanes, it’s worth keeping in mind.
Pro: Tobias Harris steps up
I’ve been very critical of Harris in this column in recent weeks. And, to be honest, it was all warranted. But Harris showed up in a major way tonight to help the Sixers steal a win, and he deserves props for that.
I think there’s a case to be made that this was Harris’ best all-around performance of the season. He contributed 22 points on 9-13 shooting from the field, including 3-3 from three-point range. Harris also grabbed eight rebounds and logged 42 minutes in a game where the Sixers were completely depleted on the wing.
As impressive as it was, we already knew Harris can score the ball. And while he’s never necessarily been a bad defensive player for the Sixers, it’s hard to remember him performing better on that end of the floor than he did tonight. Harris drew the extremely difficult Jimmy Butler matchup, and did a phenomenal job, as Butler scored just eight points on 1-11 shooting from the field (!).
There’s no doubt that Harris needs to be considerably better moving forward than he has been this season. But give credit where it’s due — Harris was excellent tonight. More of that, please!