The Philadelphia 76ers continued their homestand Friday night with a matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers. Despite the Sixers taking full control early in the second half, things were neck-and-neck in the game’s final minutes.
Tyrese Maxey had a chance to hit a game-winner but could not get a floater to fall. In the end, LA completed the comeback and walked out of Philly with a 102-101 victory. Here are some observations from the matchup.
3. Tobias Harris stuffs the stat sheet
After an up-and-down start to the season, Tobias Harris continues to show flashes of his former self. He managed to do a little bit of everything for the Sixers against one of his former teams.
In 40 minutes of action, Harris tallied 20 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and one block, albeit in a losing effort. He also had a good night shooting-wise, connecting on eight of his 17 field goal attempts.
On a night where multiple contributors were out, Harris managed to step up and fill in some holes. His ability to be a do-it-all forward was on full display.
These are the types of showing people have expected from Harris this season. Moving forward, the goal for him becomes stringing together performances like Friday over a consistent stretch.
2. Joel Embiid’s adjustments
one hand JAM.✋ pic.twitter.com/1aSn7jinX7
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) January 22, 2022
With the way he has played over the last month, it is impossible not to bring up the play of Joel Embiid. The All-Star center followed up a career night Wednesday with another dominant performance against the Clippers. Embiid finished the game as the Sixers’ leading scorer with 36 points to go along with 13 rebounds and six assists.
The biggest thing that stood out from Embiid’s game Friday was his ability to adjust on the fly. Early on, LA sent a double-team on almost every touch. Instead of forcing things, he read what the defense gave him and adjusted accordingly. He was able to hit the open man, and create scoring opportunities for others.
Even after a career year last season, Embiid still managed to elevate his game. He has said before the game moves slower for him now, and Friday was a testament to that. Embiid was already one of the league’s most unstoppable forces. Now that he can read the floor at a higher level, it has made him an even bigger nightmare for opposing defenses.
1. Key contributors missed
It is a cheap excuse to make in today’s NBA, especially against a team like the Clippers, but the Sixers greatly missed some of their regular rotation pieces. Seth Curry, Matisse Thybulle, Danny Green and Shake Milton all could have provided a lift Philly needed down the stretch.
The two biggest players who were missed are Curry and Thybulle–Curry for his ability to score in bunches and Thybulle for his defense.
When the Clippers came storming back in the second half, they did so with an array of 3-pointers. LA shot close to 45 percent from beyond the arc after halftime, and this shooting was a major catalyst in their comeback. Having a defensive disruptor like Thybulle on the floor would have helped stop this onslaught from deep.
Another factor that led to the Sixers’ lead disappearing is a stalled offense. They went through multiple minutes-long scoring droughts, opening the door of opportunity for the Clippers. Curry’s effectiveness in the two-man game with Embiid is something the Sixers go to when they need a basket but were unable to Friday.
#Sixers forward Tobias Harris on the team struggling against the #Clippers’ zone: pic.twitter.com/nmUboZjJdJ
— Tom Moore (@TomMoorePhilly) January 22, 2022
At the end of the day, there is no excuse for surrendering a 24-point lead. That being said, being without these common fixtures certainly had a large impact.