Contributors: Dan Morgan (@dansaysthat), Steve Jones (@swjones87), Carson Fowler (@cafowler13)
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!
0 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound, -3
DM: Shake gets a D- here. I'm not giving him an F only because there is something to be said for the bar being set far too high for a late second-round pick and still very recent G-League player being asked to play out of position, as he is NOT a point guard, he is a shooting guard, or a "combo guard" at best. We also saw the best of Shake Milton when Ben Simmons was out, and while they've had plenty of time to scheme and formulate a plan during quarantine, they haven't had the actual practice time to implement it and figure it out, which is what is going to happen for the remainder of this entire season, not just the eight game play-in. As far as Shake and Embiid getting into it, I actually love it. Get fired up game one, get mad, talk shit, then hug it out and come back stronger. Get all this stuff out of the way early, which will be a recurring theme throughout this piece for me.
Embiid appears to say: "Imma slap the shit out of you". I'm here for it.
SJ: F. A forgettable performance, which was highlighted by the verbal confrontation between Milton and Embiid late in the 2nd quarter (I’m sure the anti-Brett Brown crowd will make sure we don’t forget about this). Though Milton is arguably better at running a half court offense than Simmons, he also struggles to bring the ball up the court. TJ McConnell’s infamous full court press made this obvious, but this was not Milton’s first time having issues bringing the ball up (See OKC scrimmage game). Look, every player is allowed to have 1 or 2 absolute horrid games throughout an 82 season. With that said, if Shake is closer to this performance rather than his pre-COVID suspension form, Brett Brown can’t afford to keep him in the starting line-up as the playoffs loom.
4 points, 1 assist, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, -9
DM: F. Josh has really struggled the entire year if we're being honest, but everyone was so excited for him, and he seems like such a great guy, that I don't think he's received nearly the amount of criticism that is deserved. Josh is a lot like shake in that he is a shooting guard, and less of a combo-guard than even Shake in my opinion, yet he is constantly being asked to play a point guard type role too often. I thought this experiment had already been scrapped but apparently not. Richardson is the type of guy at this point who does not seem comfortable creating for himself nor really being a spot up spacer type of player. Brett needs to make an effort to actually call Josh's number a few times in a pick-and-roll set and get him going to help get him involved in the game. This wasn't the case against Indiana and Richardson responded with four points on only four field goal attempts in 29 minutes, combined with three turnovers to one assist.
SJ: D. One could argue he had a worse game than Shake Milton. In my notes that I take during games,
all I wrote about Richardson was “…yikes.” Early in the game, Richardson had poor displays of ball handling and often forced bad passes (definitely felt like he way more than 3 turnovers). He was a non-factor and, as in many other games this season, appeared to be lost and unsure of his role in the starting line-up, especially on the offensive end.
30 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, +0
DM: Tobias deserves a solid B+ for this one. He still managed 30 points despite not seeming like he was really feeling it so to speak. The 30 points is nice when just skimming the box score, but what stands out to me as always with Tobias, is just how efficient he is. Not speaking to his 12/29 from the field line, but speaking to having ZERO turnovers, on a night when the Sixers were an absolute mess with the ball, having 21 turnovers as a team. It speaks further to the leadership and consistency Tobias brings to a team that has lacked both for a long time. I think this entire NBA return experience is going to be a big coming out party for Tobias Harris.
SJ: A. My co-host Dan Morgan said it the best during the game:
Tobias went on to finish with 30 points and was the only starter to not commit a turnover. Tobias becoming a quiet assassin of sorts isn’t necessarily a bad thing either, as opposing teams likely spend the majority game planning around Embiid and Simmons. Though he continues to lack a willingness to drive to the basket more often, he did go 3/8 from three. Perhaps, finishing with a +0 is why his 30 points felt empty.
19 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 4 turnovers, -11
DM: Ben once again padded the stat sheet with 19/13/4, and I loved the idea of using him at the elbow, but Ben gets a C here due to one man: TJ Warren. This season when Ben Simmons, who I've been campaigning for Defensive Player of the Year all season, guards TJ Warren, TJ Warren is 13/15 from the field and 7/7 from three point range. He has 35 points in just over 13 minutes of Ben defending him. Is Ben the sole reason for Warren torching us? Absolutely not. However, if you're going to be known as a defensive superstar instead of a shooter, you can't get torched this bad by someone like TJ Warren.
SJ: B-. While Ben Simmons finished with a nice double-double, he only had 4 assists for the game. Simmons seemed to have lacked intensity (and just simply lazy a few times) throughout portions of the game. While people criticized both Ben and Bret Brown for not defending TJ Warren earlier in the game, I’m not really sure it would’ve mattered. With only 1 steal and finishing at a -11, it’s obviously a forgettable performance for the Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
CF: Ben Simmons carries a lot of blame for allowing a 17 point-per-game scorer to blow his previous career high out of the water, but it also is an anomaly.
30 points, 21 rebounds, 3 blocks, 4 assists, +21
DM: Embiid gets an A+. What else could he do? We saw the rim protector of old with three blocks, including an absolute volleyball spike on Aaron Holiday:
I was skeptical of Embiid's minutes via both quotes from Brett Brown. Brown said he would be giving Embiid approximately 30 minutes per game early to try and ramp him up to 38 per game in the playoffs. I did not expect Embiid to only play 30 in these games, nor get to 38 come the playoffs. He played 34 tonight which I think is the perfect spot for him, and I think it showed. 41/21/4 with three blocks is probably the second best game of his career other than the Lakers game a few years ago. Check out how historic this performance was:
I'll always be favorable to Joel, but tonight is not that night. He is deserving of all the praise, and only him and Tobias really deserve any credit for this one remaining close.
SJ: A+. Despite concerns and criticism for missing the two previous scrimmages, Joel Embiid had a
dominant performance against the Pacers doing what he does best: scoring at will, getting to the foul line, and dominating the boards. Oh, and lets not forget, getting the opposing team’s starting center in early foul trouble (By the way, why is there not a stat or metric that counts how many fouls you draw in a game?). NINE of his 21 rebounds were offensive rebounds, which further illustrates how dominant he is in the paint and creating second chance points. Only downside was his 4 turnovers – in his defense, the team had total of 21 turnovers, easily the biggest non-TJ Warren reason why the Sixers lost.
CF: Expecting someone like TJ Warren to go off for 50 every game isn’t realistic, but neither is asking Joel Embiid to give you 41 points and 21 rebounds. Embiid still being able to thrive with Shake Milton giving a terrible first impression and Brett Brown resorting back to old habits shows Joel’s superstar capability, but he can only do so much.
3 points, 0/4 3PT, -8
DM: If the shot isn't falling, Furk really doesn't do enough of anything else to not receive an F. His shot was short almost every time, which is usually the case with players getting back into rhythm and being cold. It's not an excuse, as the Sixers had scrimmages and practice time to be ready for this one, but my hope is that it's an easy fix for Furkan and he can get into rhythm Monday night against the Spurs. If he has a few more games this bad, his spot in the rotation is definitely in jeopardy, especially when Glenn Robinson III returns.
SJ: C. In just 14 minutes, Furkan never get in any sort of flow as he missed all of his four attempts from three. I would argue that it had much more to do with the rest of the teams offensive struggles than Furkan just missing all of his threes.
2 points, 3 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers, +14
DM: Neto is an F. I hope he only played because of whatever was going on with Shake Milton, and while it would've been possibly good for Shake (and the Sixers to be honest) for Neto to perform well and challenge Milton's role, he further made the case that Shake is going to be incredibly vital for the Sixers to have any success. Neto is a rotating door on defense and does little to nothing on the offensive end besides bringing the ball over half court.
SJ: C+. With Shake picking-up his fourth foul 7 seconds into the 3rd quarter, Raul Neto became the primary ball handler. Besides ball handling and running the half-court offense, Neto wasn’t a contributor much elsewhere. But, ya know what? He had ZERO turnovers taking over Shake’s duties and was a +14. Not too bad for a guy who barely plays and gave you 21 minutes off the bench.
10 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block, 3 turnovers, -26
DM: Horford received a ton of slander for being a -26 on the game, but he was far from the worst Sixer. I'll give Al a C- in hopes that this was merely a result of being out on the court with NBA Hall of Famer TJ Warren and without Embiid and/or Simmons routinely with him. This game does nothing to make me feel better about Al going into the playoffs, but I don't think it impacted his role or expectations negatively either.
SJ: C. The runner up for my Scrimmage Leauge MVP was a minimal contributor off the bench in this one. In 23 minutes, he scored 10 points and 6 rebounds. Not bad for a bench/role player, but you expect more from a prestige vet getting paid a lot of money. Horford had his best run in the third quarter, taking advance of matchups against JaKarr Sampson, TJ Leaf, and Doug McDermott. However, this was short lived, and Big Al failed to make much of an impact throughout the remainder of the game.
CF: Embiid being a +21 in a six point loss tells you all you need to know about Al Horford’s night. The Sixers are going to need better then a -26 in 23 minutes from Al if they want any hope at making a run in Orlando.
9 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, -2
DM: The knock against Burks in this one isn't on him, it's on Brett Brown. Burks only received 12 minutes and was clearly the fourth best player on the team tonight. He looked engaged as soon as he came in , had the hot hand, hit 3/3 from three point range, but played the fewest minutes of anyone who actually saw playing time. If Burks had 8 of Neto's minutes, I truly believe this may have been a different game. He wasn't going to lock down Warren, but he is one of the only guys on the team who can actually get hot enough and shoot well enough to maybe trade buckets when it's his night, and it appeared it was. Burks gets an A from me.
SJ: C+. Burks provided a bright spot by going 3/3 from beyond the arc. He largely did what we’ve generally expected from him – shooting threes and creating his own shot. With only 12 minutes played, there was not much more you can expect. Many clamored for Burks to play more, while Raul Neto received 21 minutes. In my opinion, he didn’t do much to warrant that much playing time between his arrival to Philadelphia and the season suspension. However, that can change depending on the performance of Milton and Neto.
Carson's game notes
Team Grade: C-
From the outside looking in, this was a putrid start to the resumption of meaningful games for the Sixers. 21 turnovers as a team, and your starting backcourt combining for 4 total points, leaves a lot to be desired. This is without mention of the human flamethrower that was TJ Warren and Philly’s inability to make any significant adjustments to how they guarded him.
It wasn’t all bad however, as there were some positives outside of Embiid’s career night. One of which was how encouraging the spacing looked with the new starting lineup. They deserve to be cut some slack to a certain extent, as this was the first real game with this 5-man set and flashes were shown of making it work. Early on the ball movement was solid and lanes were wide open for Simmons to get his looks at the rim. Embiid also had easy one-on-ones at the start of the game, getting Myles Turner into early foul trouble, which can become the norm if the team consistently plays through Joel. Playing to their superstar’s strengths has always been an issue with this team, but I’m optimistic that they’ll somehow figure it out in the next 7 games. Looking at what Embiid and Simmons were able to do, perhaps all Philly needs to do is not trip over their own feet.