HomeSPORTSJoel Embiid and the Sixers preserve arising brief

Joel Embiid and the Sixers preserve arising brief

Joel Embiid’s struggles and the Sixers’ struggles are one in the same.

Joel Embiid’s struggles and the Sixers’ struggles are one in the identical.
Photograph: AP

Joel Embiid is the Second Coming. That’s, he’s perpetually in second place, whether or not it’s to Nikola Jokić in MVP battles, playoff battles, or on the All-NBA workforce. Depend the Boston Celtics as one other circumstance the place Embiid finishes second. On Saturday evening, Embiid continued his second-place custom in a 107-110 loss to the Celtics. Regardless of his greatest efforts on a 41-point evening, the Sixers squandered a 15-point halftime lead.

Courting again to their Feb. 15 conflict with Boston in 2022, Philadelphia has now dropped 4 straight towards the Celtics. In these 4 video games, Embiid has averaged 28.5 factors, almost 11 boards, and 4 assists per contest. James Harden has additionally met expectations within the final three he’s performed in as a Sixer. The Celtics have simply been higher collectively.

If this development continues, the Sixers are starting to appear like the most recent addition to Philadelphia’s mosaic {of professional} sports activities bridesmaids. The Philadelphia Union, Eagles, and Phillies have all completed second previously yr, and the 76ers look destined to affix them if they will’t get clear their Celtics hump by the postseason.

The Sixers have punched again into the higher echelon this season, however haven’t been in a position to take that subsequent step. That is the closest they’ve felt to a reputable title contender since Kawhi Leonard’s fadeaway danced on the rim and despatched the Sixers packing within the 2019 Jap Convention Semis.

The issue goes past teaching

The blame for Saturday’s loss can’t even be positioned solely at Doc Rivers’ ft. On the Sixers’ closing offensive possession, Rivers arrange an Iverson lower to place Embiid one-on-one with the a lot smaller Jaylen Brown. Embiid took benefit by drawing a foul and calmly draining each free throws to tie it up.

Tatum lingered within the background for a lot of the evening however rose to the forefront when it mattered most. After Joe Mazzulla referred to as a timeout with the rating tied and 5.9 seconds remaining, Boston executed the identical out-of-timeouts play they’d run to perfection towards Cleveland on Nov. 2 to ship that sport to extra time. This time, the inbounds move to Marcus Sensible led to him lacing a bounce move to Tatum as he sprinted previous the halfcourt line. Tatum shortly created separation from De’Anthony Melton with a behind-the-back dribble and squared up for a dagger three on the of the important thing to provide Boston the lead.

Embiid almost pulled a miracle off on what would have been a game-winning heave from 70 ft. A shot of that magnitude on primetime would have a minimum of shifted the MVP narrative on an evening when Jokic was struggling in a loss to Memphis. Nonetheless, he barely reacted after realizing he’d launched his shot after the sport clock had expired, together with the numbing brutal disappointment that’s been The Course of period.

“I want I’d’ve shot it sooner. Sadly, the story of my life,” is all an emotionally drained Embiid may muster in his postgame.

Outdoors of their two stars, Philly will want a rotating forged of their ensemble to step up in the event that they wind up head-to-head with these Celtics in a postseason matchup. Boston can depend on Derrick White, Marcus Sensible, or Al Horford to maintain them afloat in a seven-game collection. Horford re-emerged to hang-out Philly once more. Paradoxically, they signed Celtics massive Al Horford to a four-year contract in 2019 and tried to squeeze him in at energy ahead between Embiid and Simmons in a big, however plodding frontcourt. That finally ended with Horford getting traded to the Thunder after which again to Boston the place he’s remained a thorn within the facet of Philadelphia. Horford scored 15 factors, together with 4 momentum-shifting three-pointers, and is capturing a exceptional 47 % from distance this season. In the meantime, Philadelphia nonetheless hasn’t solved its backup middle dilemma.

In a convention the place the expertise among the many top-three groups is equal, the Celtics and even the Bucks seem to have a psychological benefit over Philadelphia, and for the Sixers, there doesn’t seem like any simple reply in sight. 



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