After losing on MVP night, the Sixers will try and avoid a daunting 3-1 hole in game 4. Besides being on the brink of elimination, this is about as big of a game as there is in a playoff series. When a series is tied 1-1, the team that wins game 3 wins the series 73% of the time. A team that has a 3-1 lead has a 95% chance to win the series. The Sixers will try and reverse that trend going forward.
If the Sixers are going to have any chance in this series, they are going to need their secondary players to step up. James Harden miraculously turned into Ben Simmons at some points in game 3, passing up open layups. In games 2 and 3 Harden has shot just 7-41 from the field. At just 17%, that is not good enough. While Harden has been bad shooting-wise, he has been extremely sloppy with the ball. Multiple clips are floating around the internet showing Embiid open and calling for the ball, while Harden dribbles out the clock and eventually turns it over. At this point, if Harden keeps playing the way he has in the last two games, there is no way you can bring him back. Harden needs to return to his regular season form if the Sixers are going to have any chance going forward.
While Harden has been bad for two games, one player who has slipped under the radar is Tyrese Maxey. Yes, Maxey is still young. Yes, Maxey should not be expected to be the main offensive option throughout a playoff series. But, Maxey is eligible for up to a $200 million extension this offseason, and he should be expected to play at that level. Shooting just 32% from the field in the last two games, he has not been his regular-season self. The Sixers need to give Maxey the ball on potential fast-break situations. It seems that in this series whenever there is a defensive rebound, the rebounder is always looking for Harden. Harden then takes his time getting up the court, and the Sixers have about 15 seconds to set their offense. The Sixers need to get the ball to Maxey more to create more fast-break offense. No one on the Celtics can keep up with Maxey in the open court, and it can create some easy baskets.
The Sixers got completely out-hustled in game 3. After an MVP ceremony on your home court, you would think the home team would have the energy. Unfortunately, it was the opposite. The Sixers need to be the team that brings the energy today, or else the series and the season will basically be over.