By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
Miami 125, Philadelphia 98 – Box Score
First off, nobody on the Sixers played very well Wednesday night. Every single player had a negative plus/minus. The saving grace during the past couple weeks, Dario Saric, shot just 4-12, didn’t get to the line, and had more turnovers (3) than assists (2). He and TJ McConnell looked to get into an actual argument during the game, which flies in the very face of Trust the Friendship. The bench allowed Tyler Johnson to roast them for a game-high 24 points. Nik Stauskas shot 3-12 and managed a -26 in 26 minutes. I suppose Richaun Holmes scoring 15 points for the second straight game and Robert Covington dropping 19 points on 12 shots qualify as the bright spots of the evening.
Maybe it was the news earlier in the day that Joel Embiid would officially miss the rest of the season that left the team without a pep in their step. Maybe it was the usual South Beach hangover. I don’t care. The Sixers have lost plenty of these games over the years. Usually, you just forget about it and move onto the next one. Right now though, I need to vent about Jahlil Okafor.
Okafor had the most pathetic, phoning it in effort I’ve seen on a basketball court in quite some time. I imagine his post-game comments would have been, “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.” It was like the ethos of “Keep Gettin’ Dem Checks” come to life. Okafor’s line of 6 points on 3-11 shooting and 5 turnovers in 22 minutes was really bad. But we’ve seen really bad from Jahlil Okafor on a number of occasions. Wednesday night was the most blatant display of IDGAF I’ve ever seen from him.
On the offensive end, the turnovers were unforced bits of carelessness, and the misses were a mixture of poor execution and poor awareness about his surroundings. It’s hard to imagine how a near-7-footer could miss a wide-open lob this badly, then have the ball ripped out of his hands by a guy half a foot shorter than him without even the semblance of a fight.
My favorite part is his pointing after the play to acknowledge to Dario what a nice pass it was, as if he had scored and they were happily jogging back down court. Need more? Here’s Okafor trying to force a shot up through a double-team and Hassan Whiteside getting one of his four blocks by palming the ball with one hand in mid-air.
Then, there was coup de grace. The “defensive” play that went viral because Jahlil Okafor did as much to stop the Heat from scoring as fans do when they clap thunder sticks in the crowd.
Let’s break it down. First, Okafor does absolutely nothing to defend the pick-and-roll, allowing Whiteside to cleanly pick TJ and giving Goran Dragic a full head of steam into the paint. Dragic goes right at Okafor, who can’t even be bothered to stick a hand up to contest the shot. Dragic misses the wide-open 6-footer, and while Okafor continues to watch the game like a spectator, Dragic would have gotten his own miss if teammate Rodney McGruder didn’t crash in for offensive rebound. At one point, Okafor raises his right hand slightly above his shoulder, which is the peak of his defensive effort this entire sequence. McGruder dribbles around the paint while Okafor spins slowly in a circle, looking like an animatronic figure on a theme park ride that’s bolted into the floor. Naturally, McGruder finds Okafor’s wide open man, Hassan Whiteside, who cans the short jumper. Okafor again doesn’t bother to so much as stick a hand up.
Absolutely disgusting. I can’t imagine being his teammate and seeing that kind of piss-poor effort go unpunished (Brett Brown inexcusably didn’t immediately yank Okafor from the game), and having the heart to give the required 100% effort needed at the NBA level. Bryan Colangelo might have thought keeping Jahlil Okafor around would raise his trade value. If anything, it’s seeking to even lower depths. These last 22 games are going to be rough.