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MIAMI — The Philadelphia 76ers were in self-destruction mode in the second half of Game 1 against the Miami Heat on Monday.
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers called a timeout. He was livid. He pulled out his clipboard and drew five small circles, indicating his players’ location on the court.
Then he showed his team the clipboard and said, “This is where you’re standing. You’re all in the wrong spots. I have no idea what offense we’re running. This isn’t the 76ers’ offense.”
A team missing its best player in Joel Embiid is already at a disadvantage on the road, but trotting out on the court disoriented isn’t going to equate to a favorable outcome. And it didn’t, as the Heat took a 1-0 series lead after a 106-92 victory in the semifinals round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Game 2 is Wednesday night.
Right out of that timeout, the Sixers went into setting up their offense. Rivers stood by the scorer’s table. Two passes into the set, Rivers turned around dumbfounded as he looked toward his bench and uttered a few choice words. The Sixers didn’t run the play right, and a clanked shot ensued.
Are the Sixers lost without Embiid? Or was it just an off night mentally?
Rivers addressed the media on Tuesday at the team’s Four Seasons Hotel and said they weren’t “organized,” and described their action on offensive sets as “random.”
The veteran coach has called for his team to play with a sense of urgency and he challenged them to pay attention to detail, especially while missing a key cog.
They turned the ball over 15 times, resulting in 22 points, and were pounded on the offensive glass.
“We have familiarity playing without Joel. This isn’t something that’s new to us,” Sixers forward Danny Green told Yahoo Sports. “It’s a challenge for sure, but we do believe that if we play the right way, we can take care of business.”
Sixers star James Harden registered 16 points on 5-of-13 shooting to go with nine rebounds and five assists. Team officials aren’t concerned about his aggression level, feeling a breakout game is soon on the horizon.
Embiid, an MVP favorite, will miss his second consecutive game Wednesday with a right orbital fracture and a mild concussion. Heat star Kyle Lowry will miss his fourth consecutive game with a left hamstring injury.
But the Heat aren’t the ones feeling the pressure right now.
Lowry has been itching to get back on the court, sources told Yahoo Sports, but the Heat are exercising caution in assuring he’s brought back with very limited potential of sustaining another significant pull.
“We’re not basing any of these decisions on whether we’re winning or losing,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said on Tuesday after practice. “This is what we think is best right now.”
Miami has considerably more depth than Philadelphia, and it was on display in the first matchup.
Sharpshooter Duncan Robinson, who started 68 games for the Heat this season, didn’t even register a single minute on Monday.
Going down 0-2 before the series shifts to Philadelphia in hopes of an Embiid rescue is a dangerous path to venture down. Game 2 is of dire importance for the Sixers, considering their situation.
“We’re a team that’s confident in what we can do, but we have to execute,” Sixers forward Tobias Harris told Yahoo Sports. “This is a work trip, so we have to treat it as such.”