The Philadelphia 76ers have been absolutely lost without their MVP candidate, Joel Embiid. Through 2 games in round 2 the Heat have made the Sixers look like a play-in team. Granted there is some part of the blame on individual players not stepping up, it’s very clear that the Sixers would be winning the series with their big man.
To state the obvious, James Harden has needed to do better in both games. Much to the media’s liking, Harden appears to be disappearing in the second half. A not-so-fun stat about James Harden is that he’s yet to shoot over 20 FG attempts in a game as a Sixer. This is someone that used to drop 60 every week with the Rockets, and now it’s becoming a struggle to even drop 20. Harden simply HAS to be better. In the second quarter of game 2 Harden seemed to find a rhythm. He finished the half with 16 points and scored 12 of them in quarter 2. Then, as mentioned before, he disappeared after that. This cannot happen regardless of if we have Embiid or not.
Now enough about Harden, let’s talk about where Embiid is missed. DeAndre Jordan shouldn’t be on an NBA team at this point in his career. It’s one thing to have him come off the bench but to start in each game is another level. Out of any lineups that the Sixers have ran, the lineup with Jordan has been the worst by far. His main job is rebounding and he hasn’t even done that right. He is also flat-out incompetent on defense. Defensive rebounding in particular, and defense in general are 2 things that Embiid brings to the table at an elite level. Bam Adebayo has been able to tear up the Sixers defense in the paint without Joel Embiid. The Heat would be in absolute shambles on offense if Joel Embiid was playing.
Moving to the offensive side of things for the Sixers, they have been downright awful. Tobias Harris in game 1 and Tyrese Maxey in game 2 have been the exceptions. The worst of the worst has come from Danny Green and Georges Niang. The duo has only hit 3 3-pointers in 24 combined attempts over the first 2 games. Many of these shots have come in momentum-shifting plays of the games. There has just been nobody down the stretch that could put the team on their back. Usually, if it were to even get to this situation, Joel Embiid would be that guy. There isn’t a single player on the Heat that can guard him and it’s almost a guaranteed bucket every time down the stretch. There would be all around improvement on the Sixers offense with their best player in there.
There’s no saying for certain that the Sixers would be winning the series if they had Embiid, but it’s looking very likely that it would be the case. The Sixers better hope that Embiid gets upgraded to questionable or active for game 3 or else they could very easily be looking at a sweep.