Since their star center Joel Embiid was ruled out of the first two games with an orbital fracture and a mild concussion, everybody had to be on their A-game to steal a win on the road down in South Beach.
Unfortunately for Philadelphia, not everybody was able to play their part to perfection. While the veteran forward Tobias Harris had a stellar 27-point outing, and James Harden facilitated the offense to get guys open looks, the Sixers struggled as a whole in their first game against Miami — especially when it came to the bench.
Typically, the Sixers rely on their backup forward, Georges Niang, to lead the reserves in points as he’s known to heat up from beyond the arc. But on Monday night, Niang was ice cold.
“I don’t have much for you guys today,” Niang said as he addressed the media on Tuesday, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “Just like yesterday.”
As a seasoned NBA veteran, Niang is well-aware of his struggles from Game 1. After spending 21 minutes on the court, Niang didn’t drain a single one of his seven shots from the field. While he wasn’t the sole reason the Sixers lost to the Heat, he played a significant part in Philadelphia’s 17-percent average from deep.
After reviewing the film, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers admitted that he didn’t have any issue with Niang's shots. Instead, Niang’s struggles were more about him simply missing attempts.
“We should take every shot we have that’s open. I don’t mind our shots,” said Rivers on Wednesday. “I thought some were rushed, and we saw that on film. But even those shots, if you took them all again, you’d probably make more than you made the other night. We just got to get more rhythm shots. Georges is hard on himself — and we’re hard on Georges too [laughs].”
The Sixers and the Heat are set to play Game 2 on Wednesday night in Miami before the series heads back to Philadelphia. This time around, the Sixers hope Niang and the rest of the team will find success from deep as it could make or break Game 2 for them.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.