Since Joel Embiid hit this stunning dagger 3 to defeat Toronto in Game 3 and give 76 players a 3-0 advantage in the series, his team’s games have fallen apart and held the lead by five minutes and 17 seconds out of a possible 96. Philadelphia has won exactly two of the past eight quarters against the Raptors. Now, they face the 6 game north of the border to avoid becoming Fourth team in NBA history to go into Game 7 after leading 3-0.
The previous three NBA teams were able to clear blockages from the collegiate bronchioles to stave off disqualification. You go without writing, but I’ll write it anyway because the idea makes me happy: If Doc Rivers and James Harden join forces to stage a 3-0 meltdown, Philly will be the first franchise in league history to earn such a shameful distinction.
The biggest reason this series went into Game 6 was a ligament tear in Embiid’s right thumb. He’ll need to have it surgically repaired after qualifying, so it’s more than just a broken ankle or a bruised hip. Whether it’s in the hand, the Raptors’ defense, or a combination of the two, this year’s scoring champ has only had 21 points and 20 points in the pair since injury.
Harden, the All-NBA GM guard Daryl Morey who has earned him in such situations, scored 22 points and 15 points in 17 and 11 attempts in Games 4 and 5, respectively. After Monday’s loss, Embiid was not shy about publicly encouraging his teammate to let the footsteps show, per ESPN.
“I’ve been saying all season since he got here, he has to be aggressive and he has to be himself. That’s not really my business. It’s probably for the coach to talk to him and tell him to take more shots, especially if they’re going to guard me the way they were. They guard it. But that’s not really my business.”
This quote is obviously the one to compile, which it should be because he called Harden and his coach, but here’s the rest for full context:
“But we all need to be better offensively. We missed a bunch of wide aperture shots. At times, it felt like we were just called, when I doubled, that we weren’t aggressive in attacking the ball. We kept moving the ball around the perimeter, and that gave them time. To recover, which is why we can’t get anything out of it.
“So if that’s what they want to keep doing, we have to take advantage of it.”
Playing a pie pan around the ocean is exactly what jiggling players do when a team the length of Toronto spins a string. It’s on the Doc to find out how to stop the bleeding. It’s just… This is not a talent for a coach who has achieved the most 3-1 lead (three) in NBA history. When I wrote that the Harden and Rivers dynamic is “the constant versus the unstoppable farce” Fans must terrify PhillyI could see a playoff formula, but I didn’t know they could conspire to go down in the NBA.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that the universe also lines up against the organization through chance (or by karma depending on where you stand in the process). Rookie rapper Scotty Barnes is back in the starting lineup after missing games 2 and 3 with turning his ankle and coming off the bench in Game 4. , Toronto has no weakness in its defense for anyone other than his name Joel Embiid to exploit.
Nick Nurse makes up for not guarding the inside pass in Game 3 because it doesn’t allow Embiid to get a good Kim Birch before bringing in a slew of tall sporting wings and strikers to double the big team all around. Precious Achiuwa, Thad Young and Chris Boucher get more minutes from the token position, which makes life hell not only for Harden and Embiid but also for Tyrese Maxey.
The sophomore guard from Kentucky made a showing with 38 points in the first game. Since then, his outputs have been 23, 19, 11 and 12 on 45 percent of the field. (If you take 8-11 Game 2, he’s 17-44 years old in his past three competitions.) The VanFleet-free Toronto also means the Maxey is at least 3 inches shorter than each Raptor. His expectation to become the third player in the Big Three could happen over time — and if All-Star Harden ever emerges — but that trajectory was premature at least for this season.
However, all Philly needs is one quicker-than-expected game from Maxey, a triple-double throwback from Harden, or an MVP-caliber acquisition from Embiid in the next two races to wake up from this nightmare and circumvent everyone’s mother’s existential crises abroad.
The natives were restless on Monday night as the home team heard boos from their fans on multiple occasions. If the Sixers don’t finish the Raptors on Thursday and then start slow at home in Game 7, the rage emanating from these fans will manifest a physical form capable of destroying humanity – or at least whatever remains of the Chiefs of Operations.