After a hot start to the series, the Sixers have seemed to cool off big time. This is largely due to Joel Embiid’s injury on his right hand. After being rumored, reports surfaced confirming Embiid tearing a ligament in his right thumb. It has effected his shot somewhat but his overall game has had a huge decrease in quality. Embiid had perhaps his worst defensive performance in years last night as he seemed very distracted by his injury. That being said, even with an injured thumb he still managed to be the leading scorer for the Sixers in Game 5.
This highlights the other huge problem that the Sixers have had over the last couple games. With Embiid being injured, nobody’s stepped up to fill in where his absence is missed. Tyrese Maxey has scored a whopping 42 total points over the last 3 games after scoring a combined 61 points in the first 2 games. This is the absolute worst time to disappear as the Sixers have been trying to send the Raptors home in each of the last 2 games.
James Harden is another player that hasn’t done anything special over the last few games when we’ve needed him most. The main reason we traded for Harden was so that Embiid didn’t have all of the weight on his shoulders. Even with Harden on the team this is continuing to be the case. Harden appears to be too focused on being a “point god” rather than being what the Sixers need him to be. A 14 assist game is cool when Embiid isn’t hurt but when we need a scorer, we need him to step up. It’s a shame that Harden went from dropping 60 once a week to not even being able to score 20 when he needs to. This series could have a very big impact on Harden’s decision in the offseason and it would be awful to lose him after just a couple months. The Sixers will desperately need Harden to step up on Thursday night to try and overcome this Raptors team and send them home.
The few bright spots for the Sixers have been surprisingly Danny Green and Tobias Harris. At least in last night’s matchup, these 2 kept us in the game when the Raptors started to pull away. Even if we lost, we had a couple things to be grateful for.
Doc Rivers hasn’t been awful which is surprisingly considering we’re 1-2 in our last 3 games. The main problem for the Sixers has been execution and hustle. As soon as the Raptors gained a fairly decent lead in the first half, the Sixers started chucking up dumb shots which allowed the Raptors to pull away even further. It’s very frustrating from a fan’s perspective remembering what happened last season. It should be made very clear that Sixers fans can’t handle another blown lead in the playoffs. We’re not quite ready to give up on our tea