The Sixers were up one at halftime. Tobias Harris was awesome, James Harden played with some juice, and the energy was good. Then came the second half. Then came more DeAndre Jordan. Then came more missed 3s. And then came the inevitable defeat, with Miami running out to a double-digit lead and never relinquishing it.
Game 1 was not a pretty scene for the Sixers, who were screwed without Joel Embiid, but who nevertheless made sure the loss felt even worse by making countless unforced errors and missing every decent look on offense.
Philadelphia shot 6-of-34 from 3-point range, which will never win you a game. Doc Rivers coached easily his worst game of the playoffs so far, while the Heat were red-hot and well-connected on both sides of the ball.
Here’s what we learned…
Sixers-Heat Game 1 takeaways: DeAndre Jordan cannot play
The Sixers have no good options without Joel Embiid. The best backup center on the roster is Paul Reed, who picked up five fouls in 13 minutes. Paul Millsap is cooked, Charles Bassey has never played real minutes, and going super small guarantees Miami good looks at the rim. Unfortunately, every option listed above is still superior to DeAndre Jordan, who posted four points, two rebounds, two blocks, two turnovers, and a ghastly -22 in 17 minutes of playing time.
The literal only justifiable reasons to play Jordan would be his rebounding ability and his ability to protect the rim. Unfortunately, Jordan was quite poor in both areas in Game 1, and he has been quite poor in both areas all season. He doesn’t move fast enough to box out, and don’t let the two blocks fool you — the Heat were treated to several layup line opportunities with Jordan guarding the paint in deep deep drop coverage.
Jordan is too slow to guard in space, so he hangs back at the rim. But he’s also too slow to rotate over and deter drives. He’s literally not guarding the rim or providing you with mobility on the switch. He’s a worse rebounder than Paul Reed. At least Paul Millsap can sorta move. Or, if you’re Doc Rivers and you want to get brave, you can unleash your big athletic shot-blocker and rim-runner named Charles Bassey. No matter the ultimate decision, the Sixers just cannot rely on DeAndre Jordan in the NBA playoffs. Especially not against a team with Miami’s offensive cohesion and perimeter firepower. They’re going to target him every possession and win most of them.
Here’s the story of the game:
Doc Rivers looked at those stats at halftime, talked it over with his team, and then played Jordan for 13 more minutes in the second half. Use the stats, use the eye test — Jordan was the worst center on the floor Monday, and it was clear as day.
The Sixers have no chance without Embiid if Rivers is going to hand away the game like this. Let’s not even discuss opening the do-or-die fourth quarter with Jordan/Thybulle on the court together and no James Harden.