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San Antonio at Philadelphia, Final Score: Spurs patchwork lineup can’t overcome poor start against Sixers 100-119

The Spurs played with intensity, but they didn’t have enough players to keep up with Embiid, Harris, and Curry

San Antonio Spurs v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Spurs have been on the other side of contests like this a few times this year, but tonight was their turn to see the ugly side of a short-staffed blowout as Joel Embiid and the Sixers obliterated them 119-100. The patchwork lineups of the Spurs weren’t short on effort, but a terrible first quarter put the team into a deep hole they never climbed out of. The Spurs made some runs, but every time they were able to get the deficit into the 10-12 point range, poorly timed turnovers and inopportune fouls kept the game out of reach. Still, this was a great opportunity for Josh Primo to develop his game in the first start of his career, and Dejounte Murray and Jakob Poeltl had solid games. It wasn’t nearly enough as Joel Embiid scored 31 and put the game out of reach early.

Observations

  • With the announcement of Tre Jones entering health and safety protocols a few hours before the game, the Spurs have 7 of their top 11 players [minutes per game] in Health and Safety protocols and ineligible to play. Lonnie would have been the 8th, but he’s expected to return tonight and Dejounte is on his second game back. The Spurs avoided losing players to Covid for much of the season, but it’s had a huge impact in the past couple of weeks.
  • Seth Curry would be more respected if he wasn’t Steph’s brother. He’s really a good player in his own right, but he can’t get out of the shadow of his more famous sibling.
  • Joshua Primo in the starting lineup! I never thought a player younger than Tony Parker would start for the Silver and Black. He definitely has a lot to learn as a player, but he’s learning very quickly. He has this ability to instantly process what happens and quickly adapt, sometimes even in the same game. That’s really rare, even in the NBA.
  • The Spurs used a lot of double teams on Joel Embiid early, and they almost always backfired, as players reached instead of playing position defense and sent the 7 footer to the line.
  • Tobias Harris isn’t the biggest star on the Sixers, but he’s just their most solid and consistent player, and he’s always in the right spot. He’s important to their offense, and he’s also a very good defender.
  • I really like Keita Bates-Diop. He always plays smart, and he really never is in the wrong spot and makes the game easier for his teammates.
  • Jock Landale got to play alongside Jakob Poeltl a lot tonight, and I think that worked pretty well against the Sixers two big lineup of Drummond and Embiid. I think this is something the Spurs need to do a lot more against teams that play two bigs, because the super small lineups have really struggled against size this year.
  • I’m seeing a lot more contact in NBA games this year, as referees are more reluctant to call touch fouls. I like it, but it’s pretty rough on the players, especially with Embiid going to the floor several times during the game.

Game Flow

Tobias Harris started off the scoring with an inside bucket, and the Sixers were off to a quick start for a 5-0 start, before Primo put in a floater for the first Spurs points. Jakob Poeltl picked up two quick fouls on Embiid, forcing Pop to put Drew Eubanks in early. Embiid feasted on the mismatches and drew tons of fouls as the 76ers rushed out to a double digit lead early. The mismatched lineups were costly as the Spurs turned over the ball, giving easy points to Philly as the lead ballooned, and the Sixers led 39-19 after one quarter.

Dejounte Murray started off the second quarter on a positive note for the Silver and Black with a drive to the basket with a foul from Drummond for an and-one. The Spurs intensity picked up a bit as they cut into the lead with a 10-0 run. The Spurs looked like they might be able to cut the lead to single digits at times, but a late 16-9 Philly surge put the Sixers up up 71-53 at the break, with the Spurs outscoring them 34-32 in the second quarter. A good effort, but not enough to make the game competitive.

The Spurs started off the second half on an 11-3 run to give them a little life, with Dejounte Murray making key plays on both ends. The Spurs couldn’t keep up the defense though, and Embiid and the Sixers used another late quarter to cancel out most of the Spurs advantage, and they trailed 97-80 after three quarters, once again outscoring the Sixers in the period, but by only one point. Not enough to make Doc Rivers nervous, but another good effort.

The Spurs started off the fourth with energy and a 7-2 run, leading to an early Rivers timeout. Primo showed his value on both ends, making shots and drawing a charge from Georges Niang, as the Spurs cut the lead to 13. Once again, the effort was there, but the execution was lacking as the Spurs created opportunities with their hustle, and threw them away with their lack of organization, at one point blowing a 4 on 1 break as all the players ended up in a scrum under the bucket and couldn’t hit a layup. Jalen Morris, Anthony Lamb, Joe Wieskamp, Eubanks and Devontae Cacok finished out the game for the Spurs as they played out the last few minutes with the outcome not in doubt, gathering valuable NBA experience as the Spurs lost 119-100.

Music Break

I haven’t been doing music with recaps so far this year, but this one seems to fit.


What’s Next . . .

For the Sixers fan’s perspective, please visit Liberty Ballers.

The Spurs record is now 15-23. The next game up is on Sunday morning at 11:00 AM CST (yeah, that’s right, before noon) in the Barclays Center against the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets are ridiculously talented, and the Spurs best hope in that game will be to hit them hard before they’re fully awake. Since the game is in New York City, Kyrie Irving will not play, so he can sleep in.