Pros and Cons: Sixers vs. Pacers
This was a wild one!
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.
As they jockey for favorable seeding in the Eastern Conference playoffs, tonight the Sixers headed to Indianapolis to face the Pacers. Here’s what stood out to me tonight:
Pro: Sixers put up monster first half
Early on, this looked like a classic game where the Sixers and their opponent trade baskets all night long. And the Pacers did score in bunches. But the Sixers went absolutely bonkers, posting 82 points -- yes, 82 -- in the first half alone.
The Sixers went 17-28 from three-point range in that first half, which included a 49-point second quarter. Their 17 first half threes were one away from tying the NBA record for most threes in one half by a team, according to the NBC Sports Philadelphia broadcast.
The headliners of this massive run were Tyrese Maxey, who knocked down seven three-pointers, totaling 21 points on just nine shots in the first half alone, and Joel Embiid, who posted 27 points on 12-18 shooting in the half against Indiana’s weak frontcourt rotation.
Tobias Harris deserves love as well, as he knocked down four triples in the first half to go with four rebounds, four assists and three steals. He is continuing to get more comfortable in his new role as a spot-up shooter alongside Embiid and James Harden.
Con: The Matisse Thybulle issue
Thybulle has played a few solid games recently, but tonight we saw a version of him that has been far too common of late. Thybulle, while of course very valuable defensively, has been brutal on the offensive end of the floor, even more than usual.
Thybulle did not free himself as a cutter much at all tonight, and when he isn’t doing that, he becomes such a negative influence upon the team’s offense that you have to wonder if he is playable in high leverage games against elite defenses. On top of that, he smoked two wide open transition layups on consecutive possessions, which has become a common issue for him. Indiana ignored Thybulle’s presence entirely, which is a sound strategy that the Sixers will see a lot of in the postseason.
Eventually, the Sixers have to take a look in the mirror and decide whether Thybulle can be their fifth starter when the lights are bright.
Con: Sixers nearly cough up another late lead
The Sixers won tonight’s game and had a few standout performers, so it’s a bit surprising to me that I have to write a second pessimistic blurb. But despite getting the win, this was an ultimately uninspiring performance to me.
The Sixers set a franchise record for most three-pointers made in a game. Harris was excellent to open the game. Harden’s passing was on point all night long. Embiid and Maxey were brilliant for the duration. And yet, they just barely were able to stave off a tanking Pacers team.
There is ample reason to assign the bulk of the blame to Doc Rivers and his coaching staff, who appear to have an extreme penchant for blowing sizable advantages.
The Sixers are clearly coasting right now as they await the playoffs. But time and time again this team shoots itself in the foot, and tonight that led to far too many minutes for their stars. In the future, the consequences could be even worse.