Coup’s Takeaways: Embiid, 76ers Surge In Second Half
1. One of those games where the HEAT were the better team for most of the early going, but because their three-point shooting was having the rare off night (9-of-35 overall) they were never up by as much as their play would indicate they should be. Because of that, the 76ers were one run away from taking the lead at the end of the third quarter, and from there everything was up for grabs.
And Joel Embiid happened to grab all of it. He scored 13 points in the fourth quarter (32 points on 22 shots overall) and thwarted just about every coverage the HEAT tossed his way. Even when the HEAT downsized to juice the offense with P.J. Tucker at center, compensating by sending double teams at Embiid, he still found a way to manipulate the floor to Philadelphia’s advantage. On the other end, with the 76ers missing most of their plus perimeter defender, Embiid was masterful, acting the road block at the rim, the deterrent in mid-range and capably switching out onto guards on a few occasions. The 76ers weren’t winning this game without an All-NBA game from their All-NBA player, and they got one en route to winning the second half, 66-48.
2. Another good night for Omer Yurtseven (now with 14 straight double-doubles, 22 points and 11 rebounds on the night), who continues to earn his nightly mention. Facing one of the best centers in the league, Yurtseven went 5-of-6 for 10 points in the game’s first seven minutes as he crashed the offensive glass played off Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry. Yurtseven has been playing regularly with Lowry for over a month now and those two have developed a nice pick-and-roll chemistry, and any awkwardness – with regard to spacing – that may have been there with Butler’s return from injury has quickly dissipated as Butler shows his ability to create opportunities for Bam Adebayo and Dewayne Dedmon translates to Yurtseven as well. In the fourth, Tyler Herro tossed a pair of trusting lobs that Yurtseven finished to keep Miami in striking distance.
On the other end, Yurtseven did well defending a pair of early Embiid isolations where it was readily apparent that Embiid thought he could bully the younger player. One body blow in particular may have knocked Yurtseven back a few feet just a month ago, but tonight he absorbed the contact and contested Embiid into a miss. For someone who has physicality listed at the top of his player development chart, that was a positive sign. Embiid is too good not to win a few battles, but Yurtseven showed the fight you want to see.
3. If you want to point to somewhere on the box score where Miami lost the game, it was their every category that involved shooting as they posted a 103.2 Offensive Rating. This is the flip side of what the past six weeks, with all the glorious shooting that they have featured, as the 25 percent shooting from deep was a hump the offense just couldn’t get over. And with Butler and Lowry combining for a 3-of-22 performance from the field, there just wasn’t enough of a punch with the rim sealed off by Embiid. It happens, and it’s not much of anything to worry about beyond the fact that threes are going to fluctuate over the course of the season even if it seems the gravy train will never stop.
No reason to complain about the clutch offense, however. Miami struggles there, sure, but their success is often tied to their threes and free-throws in the last five minutes. Beyond Butler’s post-ups and isolations, that’s what the team relies on – it’s exactly what won them Friday against Atlanta. Asking them to find something different just because the shots didn’t fall that night is to ask them to be a different team.