As the Philadelphia 76ers have failed to get out of the second round of the playoffs the past two seasons, the team's struggles in half-court offense -- and questions about who would have the ball in the game's dying moments -- have been front and center.
At the heart of that debate has been All-Star center Joel Embiid, the NBA's most dominant low-post scorer -- which typically is hard for teams to utilize in late-game situations. So, as the Sixers have been preparing for the NBA season to resume, Sixers coach Brett Brown said the team has been specifically focusing on Embiid's ability to read double-teams in the post, thinking it will be one of the keys to unlocking the offense and allowing the Sixers to advance deep into the postseason.
"He's going to be double-teamed more than he isn't," Brown said after Thursday's practice. "You can book it -- he spins baseline, the whole gym is coming, I don't care who we are playing.
"What is happening [on his post-ups] in the playoffs, it's because they go at him more repetitively in a seven-game series. It's that heightened awareness for an NBA first-team All-Star. And, so I think this camp, one of the things I have been doing is damn near every time he catches it, we're coming [with a double-team]. ... He's done a really good job passing out of it. And so whether they come at him, whether he's going to be able to architect a quarterback mentality out of that post-up or whether he's just going to play bully ball and go dunk and score, I think that we're moving toward the reads that are coming."
Embiid is one of the few dominant post players in a league who has become increasingly dependent on perimeter shooting. He logged the fifth-most post-ups in the NBA this season (429) per Second Spectrum tracking data, had the second-most direct points created from them (397) and the fourth-best points per post-up (1.099).