The Philadelphia 76ers are dealing with a lot at the moment. They are trying to adjust everything amid the Ben Simmons situation and they are trying to ensure they remain a championship contender despite everything going on with him.
They had a tough time without him on Tuesday in a 112-99 loss to the New York Knicks on the road. The Sixers were not able to get into much of an offensive rhythm and they were not able to properly defend Kemba Walker or Evan Fournier, but another big thing that bothered coach Doc Rivers was his team’s poor response to New York’s physicality.
The Knicks outscored the Sixers 36-19 in the second quarter as they began to really expand their lead, but for Rivers, it began in the first quarter despite Philadelphia holding a lead after one.
“I thought it was the first quarter,” said a frustrated Rivers. “I said it in the interview, go listen to the TNT interview, I said it in the first quarter with us up. That was a fool’s gold quarter. I thought New York was so much more physical, pushed us around, the difference in the first quarter and the second quarter, we made a couple of shots. We didn’t move the ball, the ball stuck, I thought they were so much more physical than us. They pushed us around the entire night.”
No matter what the Sixers did, the Knicks continued to push them around and get in their face. That bothered Rivers greatly when his team just did not respond.
“It was the Knicks,” he continued. “It was just physicality. They got into our bodies, every single player, the ball stuck, we refused to move it, and I just thought the pressure took us out of the game. You can see it at the end of the first. You could see it already. It was coming.”
The Knicks got whatever they wanted in the first half. Walker had 10 points in the second quarter alone and then guys liked Derrick Rose, Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, and Alec Burks gave New York a boost. It also did not help that the Sixers had seven turnovers in the second quarter.
“We had too many turnovers, didn’t take care of the basketball,” said Tobias Harris. “They had a lot of hustle plays and won 50/50 balls and in reality, they made shots you have to give them credit, they got to their spots and wanted to get pull-up 3s. That was a rough stretch for us going into halftime.”
While the focus will be on the second quarter in this loss, Rivers was upset with the effort from the jump.
“It started from the beginning,” he finished. “Some of the shots we took in the first six minutes of the game were just one pass, shot, avoided physicality, no picks, no passing. That was as bad as I’ve seen us and I didn’t like it so we’ll get it fixed.”
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