Things have taken a dangerous turn for the Philadelphia 76ers in their first-round series with the Toronto Raptors. Since the Sixers jumped out to a commanding 3-0 lead in the series the team has lost the last two games by an average of 11.5 points per game.
Now the Sixers have to travel back to Toronto where they’ll again be shorthanded due to Matisse Thybulle only being partially vaccinated. Superstar Joel Embiid is also playing with a torn ligament in his thumb that will require surgery at the end of the season.
Embiid’s production has dropped over the last two games averaging 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. It hasn’t just been Embiid though, the Sixers’ production is down pretty much across the board over the last two games.
Here We Go Again?
After the game five loss, it’s no surprise that Sixers fans and media members on Twitter were in a frenzy. While there was plenty of blame to go around for the last two games many settled on blaming head coach Doc Rivers.
Those were just a few of the reactions that poured in on Twitter after the Raptors made it a 3-2 series. It’s hard to blame fans and media for being skeptical of Rivers at this point.
The first reason people have for being skeptical is the way the Sixers have looked in the last two games. The team has looked aloof or disinterested at times, which is certainly troubling to see in back-to-back closeout games.
The other reason people have for being skeptical of Rivers is his track record in recent closeout games. As mentioned in the tweet above by Derek Bodner, Rivers is just 3-11 in closeout games since 2015. Beyond that, he has lost seven of his last eight closeout opportunities and holds the NBA record with 31 losses in closeout games.
There is a lot of history to support Sixers fans and their concerns about Rivers this postseason. If the Sixers don’t play more engaged then they have the last two games the team could be going home early in embarassing fashion.
Time to Lock In
It’s no secret the Sixers haven’t played well over the last two games, the team has looked disinterested at times during the two losses to the Raptors. Embiid’s injury has appeared to hurt his play over the last two games and nobody has stepped up to help carry the load.
Over the last two games James Harden has averaged just 18.5 points and 8.0 assists per game. After a great start to the series Tyrese Maxey has scored just 11.5 points per game over the last two and has shot just 34.6% from the field. Tobias Harris has scored 15.5 points in the last two games, but he has shot just 3-11 from three-point range.
The entire team has struggled over the last two games and that’s something that has to change. If the Sixers are going to close out this series and make a postseason run the rest of the team is going to have to step up and help Embiid.