Here are a couple quick takes from the Sixers’ 119-105 win over the visiting Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday…
Gasol missing in action
While the Memphis is plodding through a 19-52 season that could earn them the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, they still have one marquee player in center Marc Gasol, although at 33, the three-time all-star is past his prime.
It was still a chance to match up one of the top NBA centers against Joel Embiid. Gasol is listed at 7-foot-1 and 255 pounds, certainly a capable opponent against the Sixers’ all-star center. Gasol, like his team, struggled and wasn’t much of a match.
What is interesting is that Gasol had no interest in taking Embiid inside. A respectable (for a center) 33.7 percent career shooter from three-point range, Gasol spent most of his time roaming the perimeter. Even when Amir Johnson and, for short spurts, Ersan Ilyasova were guarding Gasol, he rarely attacked the basket. As the Sixers took a 58-44 first half lead, he connected on 1 of 6 shots for three points, while Embiid was 4 of 10 (but 6 of 6 from the foul line) for 14 points.
Embiid wouldn’t score in the second half, while Gasol finished with five points (2 for 8 from the field).
Memphis also used second-year center Deyonta Davis on Embiid. While the Michigan State product did a decent job of defending against Embiid’s quickness, he didn’t have the strength to handle him down low.
— Marc Narducci (@sjnard) March 22, 2018
In fairness, Gasol missed Monday’s loss in Brooklyn due to illness, but was able to play 24 minutes and 36 seconds against the Sixers, so he was ready to go.
The Sixers were spreading the ball around well, so Embiid didn’t have to be the focal point. But on this night, Gasol didn’t provide much resistance on either end of the court.
Before the game, Memphis interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff talked about how unselfish the 76ers are and this game was a perfect example of that. As a team is routing an opponent, players may look to pad their stats, but the Sixers continued to run their offense. Even as they were extending the lead to 30 points by the end of the third quarter, the Sixers were still looking to make the extra pass.