Sixers have frank film session before Game 4 vs. Celtics, say what needs to be said

Sixers have frank film session before Game 4, say what needs to be said originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Sixers benefited from dishing out uncomfortable truths Saturday.

As Tyrese Maxey described it, the team’s lengthy film session after dropping Game 3 of their second-round series to the Celtics contained plenty of candor.

“I think the biggest thing today is that we were real with each other,” Maxey said. “And that’s good. Family has to be real with each other. Family has to express themselves. They have to express their emotions that they’re feeling. You have to get that off your chest. I think we’ve done a great job of that all year.”

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Maxey noted “a lot of people spoke up” and said that wasn’t a problem, since the Sixers “have the ultimate respect for each other.”

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers thought the film session played a significant part in Sunday’s intense overtime win starring James Harden to even the series at 2-all. His team squandered a 16-point second-half lead, trailed by five late in the fourth quarter, and eventually emerged with a vital game.

“Honestly, I think the film yesterday said what we had to do,” Rivers said postgame. “They’re going to make a run. We’re going to make a mistake. Things are not going to go well, and just keep playing. Two days ago, we didn’t do that. Tonight, we did that. So I think that’s what it says: That we’re in a bar fight, and we’ve just got to keep slugging.”

Rivers on Saturday mentioned several strategic areas he highlighted, such as instances of over-helping on Jayson Tatum, committing costly turnovers, and repeatedly being imprecise with spacing. He also “showed our guys our body language on bad plays” and invited players to say their piece.


He called it “an extremely frank dialogue.”

P.J. Tucker, who’s been the epitome of extreme frankness, sat next to Harden at the postgame press conference podium. When asked about the film session, Harden looked over at Tucker, assuming he’d offer his insight.

However, the 38-year-old forward amusingly opted to stay silent, deferring to Harden.

“Film is always honest, honestly,” Harden said. “When we’re doing bad things and we’re not playing together offensively, or we’re not engaged and together defensively, we see it. So it was another great film session for us.


“We know what we’re supposed to be doing. We’re at Game 4; they know our plays, we know their plays. It’s a matter of who wants it more, who wants to win. Tonight, we did a really good job of that.”

The Sixers’ collective honesty does indeed seemed to have meaningfully enhanced this year. Tucker has been a vocal, veteran tone-setter on that front, but it hasn’t been rare to hear players discuss unacceptable transition defense or talk about a teammate needing to play with greater aggression.

As Georges Niang said in December, the concept of “Do you want to keep losing the same way, or do you really want to tell the truth about what’s going on?” has resonated with the Sixers.

That hasn’t all been happening behind closed doors, too.


After scoring a huge put-back, and-one layup with 1:06 left in regulation, Tucker walked right back up to Joel Embiid, who was hunched over and wiped out in his third game back from a right knee sprain. Tucker got in Embiid’s ear — literally, almost — about what the Sixers required from their MVP big man.

“The three-point play is just will and determination — just wanting to win,” Tucker said. “I had just gotten back in the game, so I had to leave an imprint somehow and usually it’s offensive rebounding in those moments when James, Jo or Tyrese (Maxey) are attacking.

“And the Jo play is just me. Nobody can guard Jo 1-on-1. There’s no way. I’m sorry, it’s not a disrespect to Al (Horford) or anybody else, but I guarded him for a lot of years and when he’s aggressive and assertive, it’s impossible. And I saw him two or three plays in a row not do that, and we can’t have that. We can’t have that — not with the season on the line. We can’t have it.”

Regardless of exactly who shared what in Saturday’s film session, we think it's fair to say that message from Tucker was characteristically honest and effective.