For the second straight game, the 76ers played an outmanned and banged-up opponent, but one that showed plenty of fight.
The Sixers showed improvement in their second game, a 132-130 win against the San Antonio Spurs, but much more is still needed.
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Here is a look at Monday’s second seeding game against the Spurs.
In Saturday’s 127-121 loss to Indiana, Josh Richardson was a nonfactor offensively, taking only four shots. While Brett Brown admits the Sixers don’t run many plays for Richardson, he said that the Sixers guard sometimes has to look for his own offense.
Richardson came out with an aggressive mindset from the opening tip. Just 14 seconds into the game he drew a shooting foul on center Jakob Poeltl to set the an aggressive tone. Richardson was strong taking the ball to the basket shooting threes, making sure he was engaged on the offensive end right from the start with six field-goal attempts and 10 points in the first quarter.
At times he was forcing the issue and his shot selection wasn’t always the best but at least Richardson wasn’t passive offensively and made the Spurs account for him.
Nothing is more difficult to defend than a no-look pass and few execute it better than Ben Simmons, whose vision is among his strongest traits. In the first quarter he found Tobias Harris with this pass.
Simmons is a master of the bounce pass. On the above play, he actually made two bounce passes, a nice one to Al Horford at the top of the key before the no-look to Harris.
One reason the Spurs trailed just 64-62 at halftime was that Joel Embiid had only taken six shots and one was a forced 22-footer that he missed at the second-quarter buzzer.
The Spurs were doubling and sometimes triple-teaming Embiid, but with Poeltl, Drew Eubanks and Tyler Zeller taking turns guarding him, neither was a match.
Watch this play as Embiid got the ball on Poeltl in the post, executed a drop step, drew the foul and made the basket. The Sixers need to get Embiid more than six shots a half, regardless of double-teaming or not. He only had one first-half rebound, which is also hard to believe.
In the third quarter Embiid was a dominant player and the Sixers fed off his energy.
Like Richardson, Sixers point guard Shake Milton struggled against Indiana. Milton was held scoreless against the Pacers, and he bounced back strongly.
Unlike Richardson, Milton wasn’t forcing the issue and his shot selection was strong.
The Spurs have a lot of no-names, but Rudy Gay is well known and one thing he can do is provide instant offense.
Al Horford is a stong post defender, but Gay had Horford away from the basket and schooled him on this play.
Gay, who turns 34 on Aug. 17, can still score points in bunches.