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Wob & Moore: Answering 5 Questions on Raptors-Sixers and Where They Go from Here

May 13, 2019 5:08 PM EDT
Credit:

Photo credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kawhi Leonard after buzzer-beating Game 7 shot

  • The Philadelphia 76ers were sent packing early again, while Kawhi Leonard exorcised Toronto's playoffs demons with his buzzer-beating Game 7 shot.
  • What happened to the Sixers? Where does Kawhi rank among the NBA's best now? What should we expect from Kawhi vs. Giannis?
  • Matt Moore and Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) dive into the five most interesting questions following this dramatic series.

Kawhi Leonard sent the Toronto Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals in dramatic fashion with the NBA’s first ever series-ending buzzer-beater.

There are many questions after that thrilling ending. What happened to the Sixers? Is Kawhi the best player in the NBA? What should we expect from Kawhi vs. Giannis? Matt Moore and Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) get together to answer the five biggest questions following this crazy series.

1) What happened to the 76ers offense?

Wob: I’ll come out and say it: I haven’t seen an offensive philosophy, tactical scheme or just general flex set get blown into smithereens like we just saw at the end of Game 7 in Toronto. There were four straight possessions there between five minutes remaining and two minutes remaining where the 76ers didn’t even get a legitimate shot off out of a halfcourt set.

One of them: Jimmy Butler passed the ball to Joel Embiid in the corner with his back turned to the rim. Another: They ran handoff screen-and-rolls 35 feet from the rim not even looking at the basket, and they got BLOWN UP by Raptors swingmen with Inspector Gadget arms.

I’m trying really hard here to not be a prisoner of the moment and say, “this team just doesn’t work” or “Brett Brown was out of his league,” because they’ve proved the opposite so many times, but how … HOW did this meltdown happen? Was it an internal failure or is the Raptors’ ability to switch every screen seamlessly with Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Danny Green, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol just that good?

Moore: Well, a few things happened. One, Jimmy Butler, as he is wont to do, held the ball too long. With 2:30 to go, you don’t need to be in clock management mode. Get into your sets.

When he initiates here, he does so with 12 on the clock; he’s already in debt to the time. Then, look at him look off Embiid. Embiids’ got a clear roll to the rim. Feed the big fella!

Then here … this is just incredible defense from Siakam. They’re trying to run a hand-off with Harris, and Siakam just detonates it — and again, they’re too deep in the clock to do anything.

In the end, a lot of these problems were consistent throughout the year, and it’s got nothing to do with Brett Brown’s schemes or anything else. It’s decision-making.

The Sixers’ biggest drawback was what the Sixers consistently chose to be. They have too many guys who seem to operate in their own sphere of influence and too little pieces of chemistry. We never talk about the Butler-Embiid pick-and-roll or even the Simmons-Embiid pick-and-roll or the Redick-Embiid DHO. They’re all just pieces trying to do things, and that works if the other team is caught off guard. Toronto wasn’t in Game 7.


2) Did Kawhi’s buzzer-beater cleanse the Raptors’ troubled past?

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