Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Thomas, Burke, Smart

Sixers center Joel Embiid called on his team to play a tougher brand of basketball after a recent tough stretch, one that saw the team lose two straight home games in three days. Before these losses, Philadelphia led the NBA with a 14-0 record at home.

“I feel like, especially tonight, we were playing scared,” Embiid said of the team’s loss against Dallas on Friday, as relayed by Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “Basketball is easy. You just shoot it, pass it, move it. If you don’t got a shot just pass it.

“But tonight, like I said, we didn’t make shots, and defensively we were pretty bad.”

Philadelphia also lost to Miami at home before Friday’s game against Dallas, with both opponents challenging the club by playing a rare brand of zone defense.

Embiid finished with 22 points and 19 rebounds against Miami, following it up with a 33-point, 17-rebound performance against Dallas. The Sixers did manage to defend home court against the Wizards on Saturday, however, winning that game 125-108.

“I think that the influence that our inability lately, to, like, be put on our back heels against the zone has crept into our defense, our psyche, our spirit,” coach Brett Brown said. “And I can’t stand it.

“This is not who we are. It’s not who we are. … I love coaching these guys, because I respect them. And I feel like our competitive spirit has taken a dent because of our inability to score, and I think that any time you get into a mood swing that affects your defense because your offense is doing something, it needs to be addressed.”

The Sixers have a 21-10 record and are six games out of first place in the East, trailing the Bucks, Celtics, Heat and Raptors as of Sunday night. They have upcoming games scheduled against the Pistons on Monday and Bucks on Christmas Day.

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic Division:

  • The two Sixers fans who played a role in the confrontation with Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas on Saturday night have received a one-year ban from Wells Fargo Center, according to ESPN. A 76ers spokesperson said the fans admitted to using explicit language and gestures toward Thomas, who walked into the spectator stands and approached the duo before being ejected. “I said: ‘Don’t be disrespectful. I’m a man before anything. Be a fan.’ His response was, ‘I’m sorry, I just wanted a Frosty,'” Thomas said. The Sixers held a promotion where fans would be awarded a free Frosty in the event that an opposing player missed two straight free throws.
  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens said that Marcus Smart (eye infection) is improving, but the 25-year-old is still unlikely to play on Christmas Day against Toronto, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston tweets. “Marcus Smart is doing better. He was … going to the facility tonight to get on the floor and shoot a little bit.” Smart hasn’t done much work since the month started, with the team planning on ramping up his activities in the coming days.
  • Sixers guard Trey Burke is continuing to thrive in limited opportunities, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Burke finished with 12 points and five rebounds in 15 minutes of work against Washington, shooting 5-of-6 from the floor.
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9 thoughts on “Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Thomas, Burke, Smart

  1. Jeff Zanghi

    The Celtics are 20-7 and haven’t even had the chance to play with their full roster yet… assuming Smart and Hayward make it back soon (and the rest of the guys don’t get hurt) it’ll be fun to watch once they’re all healthy at the same time! (Of course Williams will still be out too – and that’s not entirely insignificant as he was playing some decent minutes in the C’s Center rotation — but still having Walker, Brown, Tatum, Smart and Hayward all healthy at the same time will be a good start!)

    • turner9

      The Raptors are 21-8 and also haven’t played with their entire roster all season, plus have lost big key peices for long stretches (Ibaka/Lowry and Gasol/Powell/Siakam)

      You better beat us on Xmas or it’s going to look real bad

  2. phillyballers

    Losing because of Zone Defense is on Brett Brown. If he can’t figure out how to beat a zone then he shouldn’t be the coach period. It’s his job to put the players in a position to win. Dribble Hand-Off isnt the end all be all.

    • Coach Him

      Exactly. It’s time to get back to basics. Either the players don’t listen and if they don’t that’s on the coach and if the coach isn’t making the adjustments against the zone that’s on him. Either way, this team needs to play fundamental team basketball. How the hell can you be an NBA team and not know you beat the zone with quick passing and knocking down a couple 3’s. Go get a freakin shooter Elton!

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