Sixers at Rockets Grades
Contributors: Steve Jones (@swjones87)
With the NBA season back in action, Process Potables will be bringing you a graded recap of the Sixers' players for every game until it's all said and done. Feel free to send us your thoughts to any of the above contributors, or the network in general (@processpotables)!
11 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 steals, 0 blocks, -5
SJ: C. Despite shooting 3 of 6 from three, Shake Milton had another quiet game to close out the regular season. It’s been beat to death that Shake is a combo guard playing the role of point guard, but get this: two Sixers finished with four assists (Harris and Horford), three finished with five assists (Neto, Burks, O’Quinn), and Milton finished with one. Assists alone don't tell the whole story, but is it time to reconsider Milton’s place in the line-up? No. However, Burks finished with 22 minutes to Milton’s 19. With Milton playing into the fourth quarter, I have a feeling Burks could end up playing more minutes, even with Shake starting, because of his impact offensively.
5 points, 1 rebound, 1 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, +0
SJ: B. Like Milton, Richardson was rather quiet. However, his he did the little things on the defensive end that won’t show-up on the box score, such as defending James Harden and Eric Gordon at times. While the Rockets missed a lot of open threes, many were contested as Houston finished shooting just 25% from three. The team as a whole came ready to play, which was most evident when guys were provding good help defense. The Sixers help defense will need to be active and smart in the upcoming series with Boston.;
18 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, +2
SJ: A. Harris has been the Sixers best and most consistent player during the seeding games. It is obvious that we’ll need him to keep scoring in lieu of Ben Simmons, however, he will be equally as important on the defensive end. It will be interesting to see how he fares when defending someone like Jayson Tatum. Of note in this game particularly: towards the end of the second quarter, Tobias bullied Roco for an easy drive to the basket (yes, that hurt a little bit when typing). I think he will be fine offensively as long as he remains aggressive and keeps mixing it up (threes, mid-range, drives) [Editors note: and getting to the line].
10 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, +0
SJ: B. Horford is the dad who sweet talks his way into playing with you and your friends in a game of pick-up basketball; and while he isn’t the most athletic or best scorer, he torches you with good defense, passing, and only shoots when they’re wide open. I’ve been pleased with how he’s been playing along with Embiid, but that will likely depend entirely on whether the Celtics play big or small. While no opposing team knows Al Horford like the Celtics, I’m not worried about Enes Kanter or Daniel Theis.
14 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, +9
SJ: A. Embiid’s performance was reassuring as we head into the playoffs. Embiid had his way in the paint against the much smaller PJ Tucker and Robert Covington. Early on, when the Sixers were playing zone, Embiid was beat a few times to the basket by Houston’s guards – but that’s bound to happen when you play zone against a team that essentially starts 4 guards and 1 small forward [Editor's note: The Rockets make Elton Brand sick]. Embiid almost fouled out in the first half, which didn’t matter given the starters weren’t playing the entire game, and at least two of the fouls were bad calls. He was called for an elbow to the face of Eric Gordon – yes, elbows are bad, but so is having a 6’4” guard defending a seven-footer in the low post. If you’re going to play that small, the refs ought to give the bigs some benefit due to the obvious size mismatches. Then again, the refs did call a technical on Harden and allowed Embiid to go to the line after the odd sequence.
12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 steals, 0 blocks, +27
SJ: B. Korkmaz had himself another typical game: made a couple threes, made a couple of foul shots, grabbed a few rebounds, and attempted to draw a foul after pump faking a three. As long as he’s making them, he is the second most important scorer off the bench behind Burks.
16 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, +37
SJ: A. Alec Burks has been so good for the Sixers off the bench, I can’t wait until he signs a max contract with the New York Knicks in the offseason and becomes a shell of his former (bubble) self. His impact is usually immediate, which helps since other guards, such as Richardson or Shake, usually take time to get into the flow of the offense. As mentioned before, I’m starting to wonder if Brett may end up playing Burks more minutes throughout the game, but keeps Shake in the starting line-up. His impact off the bench is immense, and his number could be called upon if we’re in need of a big shot at the end of a playoff game.
7 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 steals, 2 blocks, +36
SJ: A. For once, I can sing the praises of Matisse rather than be overly critical. He was by far the best defensive player of the game. The highlight of his strong defensive performance came in the second quarter when Harden, who initially beat Thybulle to the basket, lost the ball as Matisse poked it from behind and came-up with the steal. In the post-game press conference, Brett spoke to his confidence in Matisse’s defensive ability and essentially assured that Thybulle will be part of the playoff rotation.
10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, +37
SJ: B. Mike Scott continues a stretch of very solid performances off the bench. Houston’s short line-ups made it easy for him to score his ten points and grab seven boards. He didn’t need to be as physical or aggressive as he’s been in the past few games. Should Boston decide to play small during the first round series, Scott could play the role of small ball 5 to spell both Embiid and Horford should either of them need rest or have foul trouble.
14 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, +20
SJ: B. I texted our editor about if we should start contemplating whether or not Neto could steal minutes from Shake should he struggle. He didn’t respond to me [Editor's note: I took a mental health day from the Sixers], but I don’t blame him because I was half joking…but also half serious. Not to mention, immediately afterwards, Shake Milton went on to score 5 straight points. Neto has had himself an impressive three game stretch. Then again, the last 3 games had no bearing on the playoff seeding and much of his time came after the starters were pulled out. While he’s capable too putting up some points and assists off the bench, he is a liability on the defensive end. Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown would torch Neto all night, and Neto can’t score or make enough plays to justify his defensive liabilities.
6 points, 2 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, +0
SJ: D+. Pelle only played 9 minutes of garbage time in the second half. He drew a quick foul not even one minute into the game. Being prone to quick fouls and a limited skill set is why you likely won't see Pelle in the playoffs.
6 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 0 steals, 1 block, +23
SJ: B. For once, Kyle O’Quinn was bigger than any player on the opposing team and looked decent. His passing is incredible for a center, especially when he is playing high-up the post and dishing to wings cutting to the basket. When he gets enough playing time, he seems to get at least one backdoor pass to Thybulle, which in this one happened in the fourth quarter. Though we likely won’t see much of him, it is impressive that he can be this effective after sitting out several consecutive games.
Marial Shayok, C+
5 points, 2 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, +4
SJ: C+. All of Shayok’s points came in the fourth quarter after Shake went to the bench. At this point, I was not paying attention (and if you were, God Bless). Barring garbage time in a blowout playoff game, this will be the last you’ll see or hear of Shayok this season.