One of the most relevant issues surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers last season had to do with their chemistry, with their relationship on the track and all the problems derived from it. To the evident contrast that existed with the team when he played at home and when he did it as a visitor, his inability to close matches and transform them into victories. As a consequence, the team dropped to sixth place on the Eastern Conference, being swept in the first round by their eternal rivals, the Boston Celtics.
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After this disappointment, there were a series of changes at the internal level that led to the arrival of Doc Rivers as the new head coach, a decision that has made the 76ers one of the top contenders for the ring this season as well as reflects his 34-16 balance, tied for first with the Brooklyn Nets.
Beyond the regularity offered throughout this time, the problems of yesteryear seem to have dissipated or rather clarified, finding spaces more in line with the functions of its main figures such as Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons o Joel Embiid. All this has made the 76ers a solid, reliable and, above all, stable set. If last season they were the seventh worst team like visitor, today they are the 12th best in the league and 3rd in the East.
This improvement is clearly reflected in a fundamental aspect for a squad that aspires to compete for the championship: the clutch.
In 2020-2021 The 76ers are the franchise with the best winning percentage in the entire NBA, having won 20 of the 26 games they have played in situations with the scoreboard tight with 5 minutes or less remaining, which translates into a 76,9%. Last year they did not exceed the 59,1% with a balance sheet of 26-18.
The key to this increase lies in a collective effort at the defensive level, being much more consistent and perfectly applying the game plan, which has led them to have one of the best defensive ratings in these league situations, allowing his opponents just 95.0 with Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons as spearheads of this section of the game. The diversity of options offered by both two means that the Sixers can interchange the marks indistinctly and get to cover many more meters of ground with which to disable the opponent.
Defense is a fundamental pillar of Philadelphia’s identity, but that alone will get you nowhere. Just look at the New York Knicks, who have the best defensive record in the clutch (90.7) but have a negative balance (11-13). For him to reach the 76ers to add the victory, an offensive rapport and an organization that with Doc Rivers they have acquired is required. All this through Joel Embiid, or rather, through an interior.
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The Cameroonian is the player who more volume of use has in the clutch of the entire workforce with 39.1%, being the 7th highest in the entire NBA. A question that is not easy to bring to fruition, because the fact that it is an interior makes it difficult not to achieve points, but for the ball to reach its destination, making defense easier for rivals, being able to collapse and jump into the trap with the aim of hindering and leading to failure to Embolite.
Surprisingly, The Process has responded by becoming the 4th player who averages the most points with the match on wire (4.4) with a magnificent success rate (51.1% in TC and 42% in T3). Of the 18 games he has played in the Embiid clutch, he has won 15.
Philadelphia has been able to clear the paint, free up spaces and encourage greater movement of the ball that ensures that the Cameroonian can receive in a position conducive to scoring, not simply deliver the ball in explicit and easy-to-defend clearings.
Tonight, Doc Rivers’ men will have a difficult test before them, as they will face the Boston Celtics (1: 30h, Movistar Deportes and NBA League Pass), which seem to be on the mend after a losing streak and are always dangerous. Interestingly, the Greens are one of the worst teams in the clutch, ranking 27th in winning percentage with a record of 11-21, but with two highly talented scorers like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the NBA or its organizations.