Doc Rivers Encourages Sixers to Continue Shooting Through Slump - Sports Illustrated

The Philadelphia 76ers knew the absence of Joel Embiid would create a significant problem for them at the start of the second-round series against the Miami Heat

However, their struggles through two games go beyond the lack of star power down low against Miami’s star center, Bam Adebayo. 

Going into Game 1 against the Heat, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers stated the obvious by revealing the Sixers would run their offense through the ten-time All-Star guard, James Harden.

While Harden isn’t the same aggressive scorer he once was, he’s still an excellent playmaker who can get his teammates open shots — especially from beyond the arc.

The Sixers had a lot of opportunities to knock down threes at a high rate in Game 1. Unfortunately, they drained just six shots from beyond the arc. Considering the Heat knocked down just 25-percent of their threes in Game 1, the Sixers should’ve been able to take advantage.

Unfortunately, they shot significantly worse as they averaged just 17-percent from deep. By the end of the first outing, the Sixers collected a 106-92 loss. As the 76ers prepared for their Game 2 matchup on Wednesday night, Rivers admitted he liked the looks his team got on Monday, but they just couldn’t execute.

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“We should take every shot we have that’s open. I don’t mind our shots,” said Rivers on Wednesday morning. “I thought some were rushed, and we saw that on film. But even those shots, if you took them all again, you’d probably make more than you made the other night. We just got to get more rhythm shots.”

When the Sixers took the floor for Game 2, the situation was similar. Once again, the 76ers got great looks as they launched 30 shots from deep. Unfortunately, they only shot slightly better than they did during the previous game. 

“I liked the shots tonight live,” said Rivers on Wednesday. “We got some just wide-open looks. I think Georges had a bunch, and Danny had a couple. I may have that in reverse, and Tobias had some. I liked the shots. You know Furk had one, came out of a timeout twice, got Furk to make one, and miss one. But eight for 30? With looks you’re getting — it’s tough.”

Meanwhile, on the other end, Miami shot significantly better than the Sixers as they drilled nearly 50-percent of their 29 three-point attempts in Game 2. 

“Just look at the difference,” Rivers finished. “They made their 14 for 29. We were eight for 30. Put the game right there. I like that we’re getting them. We just got to keep shooting them. I think we’ll make them, but we just gotta tell our guys to just keep throwing them up there.”

The Sixers and the Heat will return to the court on Friday night for Game 3 in Philadelphia. Whether they’ll have Joel Embiid back or not is unclear at this time. Regardless of if Embiid returns or not, the Sixers know they have to improve from deep if they want to avoid falling into an 0-3 hole.

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.

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