18-3 at home, 9-12 on the road. This is pretty clearly a trend. PFO first discussed this trend in the early season (see link below). Joel Embiid has talked often about his special relationship with fans and how much he feeds off the energy of the home crowd.
On evenings in visiting arenas that lack high energy atmospheres, this could create a different challenge for a team that is still led by young players.
We asked Joel about this postgame:
The Rookie Wall?
Before the game on Wednesday, PFO caught up with TJ McConnell for the first time. Here is a transcript of that conversation.
Jason: You’ve got three rookies on this team, right? You, maybe more than anyone, know what it takes from an energy standpoint. Have you talked to those guys about the “rookie wall?” You went through it a few years ago.
McConnell: I don want to stress anyone out. So, I try to tell them about it. Take care of their bodies, watch how they’re sleeping and eating – that goes a long way on how your body reacts throughout the year. I’m not trying to scare anyone. Just tell them to eat right, sleep right, and that will go a long way.
Jason: The energy that you bring, do you feel that it is leadership by example? Do you feel like a veteran right now, because you are a veteran in the NBA?
McConnell: I don’t really pay attention to that stuff. I go out there and do my job, lead by example, give it my all, and do what it takes to get a win.
Jason: How about practice habits like that, routines? I talked to Landry a little bit yesterday, and he talked about how he is still working on getting locked into a routine. Is that just something that everyone’s got to find for themselves?
McConnell: Yeah, I mean, you get in a routine. Going to the gym, taking shots, taking care of your body in the weight room, eating right, we have all of that at our practice facility. I’m sure that every other team has that too. It’s about using your time wisely while you are there, being efficient.
Jason: Have you noticed a change in your time with guys that get called up from Delaware and their level of preparation, schematics? Do you feel like this year they are knowing the plays, or is it…?
McConnell: I feel like our players’ development guys do a great job when those guys get called up to get them ready with our offense and our defensive schemes. That’s why they are here. They do a really good job with those guys.
After the game, the Sixers spoke with the general media, here are some notes from those conversations (Credit: Wizards PR / Sarah Todd Philly.com)
SIXERS HEAD COACH BRETT BROWN
On tonight’s game:
“For whatever reason, we do not play well in back-to-back games. Everybody can go to different places and find reasons for that, but this is a fact. I give Washington credit with some of their energy, but I also don’t feel like we were that sharp tonight. They exposed that part of our disposition, and it resulted in, as I said, a lot of different things. One of them: 24 turnovers.”
On whether he thought they would be able to come back in the fourth quarter:
“I did. We’ve done this before. We have come back from significant margins late. Brooklyn comes to my mind. You got Landry [Shamet] in the corner for a three. I think it would’ve cut it to 10 or 11 and missed it. Then [Bradley] Beal hit the shot, and I think it went up to either 13 or 14, but I felt like that was the game. I felt like we hung around, we hung around. We just really couldn’t get over the top during that period that we’re talking about.”
On the rotation in the second half:
“Just trying to find some level of energy and trying to trip on a group that might be able to claw back in it and then come back in with the big boys. It just didn’t happen. Games like this do happen. It sure is disappointing not to be able to find a better answer when we’re on back-to-backs, but I felt to that part of the game when that happened, just trying to trip on some energy and trip on something that maybe can jumpstart us and then re-enter the starting group.”
SIXERS FORWARD JIMMY BUTLER
On the biggest difference from last night to tonight’s game:
“Their energy level from the jump. They played with a lot more energy than we did throughout the entire game.”
On the difference in energy levels:
“It happens. I don’t like that it happens. It shouldn’t happen, but it does. You can’t take any team lightly in this league. I’m not saying that we did, but when you come out and they start making shots early. It’s hard to turn really good players, their streak of making the ball go in the basket, off when they are making it at the beginning of the game.”
On the third quarter and if they thought they could make a comeback:
“Yeah. Ain’t that why we play? We just don’t lay down. We are going to keep battling until the end of the game. I think we did a good job of that. They beat us. It is what it is.”
On what they want to take to Friday’s game in Atlanta: