3 Observations: Embiid, Offense Struggles as Sixers Drop Game 4

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By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

The Philadelphia 76ers dropped Game 4 to the Toronto Raptors, 110-102, in front of a rowdy crowd at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday afternoon.

The Sixers' offense struggled to get much going, shooting 42.5 percent from the field and turning the ball over far too many times. Joel Embiid had his worst game of the series, scoring 21 points on 7-of-16 shooting from the field.

Pascal Siakam lit it up for the Raptors, finishing with 34 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Gary Trent Jr. added in 24 points. Toronto won the battle on the offensive glass 13-6, something the Sixers had done a good job of preventing through the first three games of the series.

The Sixers have a 3-1 lead in the series and will look to wrap it up in front of the home crowd on Monday night. Here are three observations from the loss in Game 4:

Embiid struggles against double teams, labors through thumb injury

The Sixers' star center reportedly suffered an injury to his right thumb during Game 3. He battled through it in Game 4, but was clearly hampered by it throughout the game. He got to his spots but his shot was not falling, and he was seen repeatedly in the first half shaking his hand.

There were some plays where he got deep post position and looked more like himself, but they were few and far between.

He did heat up in the third quarter, scoring 15 points on 4-of-5 shooting to help the Sixers stay in the game. However, he was at best a non-factor in the fourth quarter as he struggled controlling the ball and shockingly did not play a big role in the team's offense.

One of the areas he struggled with in the loss was handling the double teams Toronto was sending his way. He has improved a lot in this area of his game over the last few seasons, but all of his prior struggles came flooding back at him in this game. His internal clock was off, resulting in rushed passes and and multiple miscommunications with other players on the floor. There were glimpses of him handling the double teams with patience and making the right play, such as when he found Tyrese Maxey for an open three midway through the third quarter. In the end, he finished the game with five turnovers and will need to spend a ton of time reviewing the film of this game to correct his mistakes.

Harris continues filling his role to perfection

The Sixers have received strong efforts from Tobias Harris throughout this series, and Game 4 was no different. He got off to a fast start, scoring seven points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field in the first quarter, including draining a nice step-back three late in the quarter.

He struggled to find his range from beyond the arc, knocking down just one of his four attempts from three-point range. However, he still produced offensively, finishing the game with 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field. He did a good job getting downhill and attacking the Raptors' closeouts, including on this play midway through the third quarter:

In addition to his offensive production, he also continued to hit the glass and play solid defense whether it was on Siakam or on a switch. He put in a ton of work defensively and it has continued to pay off throughout this series. He grabbed 11 rebounds and recorded two blocks and a steal. The Sixers will be in good shape if they can receive this level of balanced production from him throughout the remainder of the playoffs. He did briefly leave the game in the fourth quarter after appearing to hurt his knee defending Siakam, but he went on to return to the court a few minutes later.

Harden's struggles and lack of wing depth hurt Sixers

The Sixers' offense as a whole struggled in the loss in Game 4. James Harden did not help matters much as he had one of his most inefficient performances in a Sixers uniform. He scored 22 points mostly on the back of shooting 10 of 11 from the free-throw line. He connected on just 5 of his 17 shots from the field and 2 of his 8 attempts from long range.

The stats will not show it, but he also did not have his best game as a passer. He dished out nine assists but committed four turnovers. The turnover issue has plagued the Sixers in their last two games. They committed 15 turnovers as a team in Game 4.

Harden had some possessions in the second half that were downright brutal as he proceeded to dribble most of the clock out before missing a step-back three. Over the last two games, he has helped keep the team's offense going at times when Embiid has struggled, but he has yet to find the balance of scoring versus looking to be a distributor.

The Sixers' lack of depth also hurt them in a big way in Game 4. With Matisse Thybulle ineligible to play due to Canada's Covid vaccination policy, the team has relied more on Danny Green and the results thus far tended to be positive.

However, Green did not have his shot going (six points, 2-of-10 shooting from the field) in Game 4 and the Sixers had really only one other potential solution. Georges Niang received some added minutes in Game 4 and, while he produced well offensively (nine points, 3-of-4 shooting from three-point range) the Raptors picked away at him defensively. They found ways to switch him onto Siakam and did a ton of damage in the fourth quarter using that action. The Sixers desperately needed Thybulle or another three-and-D wing player, it will need to be one of the team's top priorities in this coming offseason.

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