In today's newsletter:
- Thoughts on getting Embiid the ball in the post.
- Details on tonight's game.
- Link roundup.
One of the statistics that has popped up since the Sixers' victory in Game 4 is how well they executed late in the shot clock, as they finished the game shooting 16-23 from the field, including 8-12 from deep, in the final seven seconds of the shot clock on Sunday night.
Many of these plays, especially the ones late in the game, resulted in some signature moments from James Harden, including the stepback three over Bam Adebayo as the shotclock expired to expand the Sixers' lead to 10 midway through the fourth quarter, or the drive he had moments later when Adebayo overplayed him on the perimeter in anticipation of the same stepback Harden had made just moments earlier. These plays helped the Sixers hold off any threat of a Heat comeback and were crucial in the Sixers heading down to Miami with the series tied.
But these shots, were, mostly bailout shots from Harden, salvaging points from an otherwise stagnant offensive possession. The ability to do that is part of why Harden is the star that he is, but it's also something that can't always be relied upon. On the season, the Sixers shot just 38.7% from the field (and 31.5% from 3) on shots with seven seconds or less left on the shot clock. Harden himself shot just 32.7% (24.2% from 3) this year in the same late clock situations. It's great they went in this time, but you'd prefer not to have to rely upon being bailed out in the first place.
The Sixers really struggled to get the ball into Embiid in the post late in the fourth quarter, which caused the offense to grind to a halt. The seconds they wasted trying to unsuccessfully get the ball to Embiid were a big part of why the Sixers were in a lot of late-clock offense to begin with. Miami was aggressively fronting Embiid in the post, and the Sixers didn't do a good job of handling that.