One Last Chance — Games 1-6 Observations
Doc Rivers blew another lead going into the 4th quarter, and it cost the 76ers the game on Thursday Night. The Sixers will now go to Boston on Mothers’ Day and fight to win Game 7.
The highs have been to the sky and the lows’ have been underground this series, but let’s observe the first 6 games.
Doc Rivers is Getting Very Lucky
Doc Rivers has had a very mediocre series and is looking like he doesn’t know how to coach a winning basketball team. In Games 2, 3, and 6, Rivers let the Sixers absolutely collapse in crunch time. Philadelphia lost by 34 in Game 2 and in Game 3 they were outscored all game, discluding the 1st quarter. Game 6 was an absolute stinker for the Sixers right when it mattered, as they led by 2 going into the 4th quarter, but only scored 3 points in the final 6 minutes of the game. This caused a catastrophic loss in possibly the last chance the 76ers had of making the ECF. In Games 1 and 4, Rivers was saved by 2 James Harden game-winning shots. The only game in which Philly actually pulled away from the Celtics was in Game 5, where the Sixers were able to win by 12 points. The only possibility of the 76ers winning the final game of the series in Boston is if Doc Rivers stops getting lucky, and starts using his skill and experience to win the biggest game of the year.
Pick and Roll May Be the Answer
If you were to watch any of these 6 games closely, it would be easy to realize that the Sixers use the pick-and-roll on the Celtics all the time. Usually, James Harden brings up the ball and gets a screen from Embiid. Embiid tends to drop back a little bit, and Harden throws it behind his back to the MVP and he has an open mid-ranger jumper. The Celtics have been getting cooked on these plays and are having serious trouble trying to defend it. Right when Boston thinks that they will make a stop since they have Embiid and Harden covered, Harden likes to swing the ball out to either P.J. Tucker or Tobias Harris at the corner, and they drill the trifecta. This series of events for the Philadelphia offense has worked almost flawlessly all series, and if they want to win the Win-Or-Go-Home game, they need to finally figure out that what they are doing is working, and they don’t need to change anything. At least not right now.
James Harden Decides the Series
It has been clear that James Harden has been a crucial weapon in the Philadelphia arsenal and they would not have won any of these games without him. However, this means if he plays like he did in Game 2 and 3, the Sixers will be basically guaranteed to lose the series. If Harden plays bad, Embiid plays bad, and when Embiid plays bad, the entire team plays bad. It’s a cycle. If The Beard wants to turn it up a notch, the 76ers will win Game 7. If he wants to act like this is just any regular game, a promising season will come to a heartbreaking end. Harden needs to show up for Game 7, and the whole city of Philadelphia is counting on him.