Early in Monday’s victory over the Thunder, Joel Embiid dislocated his finger. For Sixers fans, it was a movie they’ve seen before. The absence of Joel Embiid on this team is nothing new, but the expectations surrounding the team won’t change, even without Embiid on the court.
Over the course of the season, Sixers fans have heard and complained about the chemistry of the team, particularly the dynamic between the duo of Embiid and Simmons on the court. Lately, the focus has been the growing frustration of Al Horford. Horford is mad at his role and it really just compounds the original narrative that Embiid and Simmons get in each others way and fail to open space on the floor.
With the loss of Embiid this week for the foreseeable two weeks or so, it’ll be interesting to see if the Sixers 112 points per 100 possessions stat (Per Kevin O’Connor) will hold true with this impending expanding sample with Embiid out.
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Rockets vs 76ers Jan 03
The Sixers had a very interesting matchup on the road against a high octane, high efficiency offense in Houston. As the first quarter ended, the Sixers held a seven point lead. From the second quarter on, the Rockets surged ahead and the Sixers only managed to close the lead to six before the Rockets sealed the deal with a minute to go.
Joel Embiid only took three shots from beyond the arc as it was clear the plan was for Embiid to do work on Capela down low. It didn’t turn out too well as Capela managed to out-rebound Embiid and add five more shots from the field. Simmons had a big game, scoring a triple double and tallying three steals, but a lack of involvement from Al Horford and a cold night from Josh Richardson doomed the Sixers in this big road test.
The Sixers were outrebounded by two and despite their advantage in points in the paint, the Rockets found a lot of success from the line (32 free throw attempts) and they managed to shoot better from the field (47%).
Thunder vs 76ers Jan 06
Despite a dislocated finger early in the game, Joel Embiid played out the game and the Sixers grabbed a much-needed home victory on Monday night. The Sixers managed to overcome a -5 rebounding deficit to win the game, due in large part to the outstanding shooting by four of the stating five.
Despite the off shooting night for Embiid — which wasn’t that bad at 7-17 — the rest of the starters shot at least 50% as the Sixers managed to go 51% from the field, 50% from three and 83% from the line, while limiting the turnovers to just 10.
It was a big win for a team going through such a rough patch but it also highlighted the fact that the Sixers must shoot the ball exceptionally well in order to overcome an off night on the boards. With the immediate future of Embiid in question after the game, the Sixers couldn’t enjoy the win with the same level of satisfaction as they normally would have.
Celtics vs 76ers Jan 09
The Sixers played their first game since Embiid’s finger dislocation on Thursday night and it went a lot better than expected. Though the Sixers came into the game at even odds to win, fans and analysts were eager to see the effect of Embiid being out and remained skeptical about the Sixers future in the days leading up to the game.
For the second straight game, the Sixers won the turnover battle (+2), assists (+7), and shot better from the field (49% to 43%). Josh Richardson stole the show with 29 points and 7 assists (9-16 from the field) and Al Horford had a very nice bounce-back game, snagging 8 rebounds while putting up 17 points and 7 assists.
The Sixers overcame a three point deficit heading into the fourth quarter to seal the deal, outscoring the Celtics by 14 in the final quarter. As stated earlier, the Sixers have been very productive with the Horford/Simmons duo on the court and it again proved to be a strong pairing Thursday.
As the next few games unfold with Embiid still out, the microscope will be on Horford and Simmons, as the Sixers evaluate how they can best navigate a playoff run with their personnel currently.
If the Sixers continue to see success without Embiid on the court, don’t be surprised if you start to hear rumblings about a scenario involving Embiid being traded away (as ludicrous as it may sound to most).
SugarHouse and BetRivers futures bet of the week: Most Improved Player
As the NBA season rolls along, more intriguing futures bets come to the forefront for both casual and serious gamblers.
This week, we’re looking at the NBA’s “Most Improved Player” award. Though the award won’t be given until June 1st, it’s not too early to look at this season’s candidates as I discuss the cases for each.
Luka Doncic +130
Though Devonte’ Graham currently shares the lead with Doncic in this category, it’s important we look at last seasons performance from Luka to see just how possible a victory for this award appears. Since last season, Luka is 5% better from the field, shot efficiency has gone up by 5%, shot volume is up, free throw percentage is up 9%, overall points per game has gone up by 8 PPG, and he’s averaging two more rebounds and three more assists.
It’s not an incredibly significant jump, but given his playing time has stayed the same and he’s the second favorite to win the MVP, this award may end up being his as a consolation prize in case he doesn’t win MVP.
Devonte’ Graham +130
By the percentages, Devonte’ Graham has had a greater percentage increase in production than Doncic. The tricky part for him is, his minutes have gone from 15 per game last season to 35 per game this season. Therefore, we can’t really factor his bump in overall production.
Instead, we need to compare his efficiency numbers. By those figures, it’s been an impressive jump. His field goal percentage is up by 3%, three-point percentage is up by 10%, free throw percentage is up 6% and his efficiency field goal percentage is up 7%. Though it may be hard to determine what weight this carries given the unique situation for Doncic, Graham should be the current frontrunner, based simply on efficiency. When you consider his increased role and the overall volume increase, there’s no one even close to him right now.
Bam Adebayo +600
Adebayo is fools gold in this race in my opinion. He’s increased his minutes, thus increasing his volume of points, rebounds, and assists. His efficiency numbers have stayed practically the same, with dips in three point and free throw percentage.
Adebayo is really only in consideration because of his current double double average for points and rebounds. Aside from that, he has no case to be in consideration, other than to be a buy low candidate in case the two aforementioned frontrunners both get injured.