Thursday’s theme at the Sixers’ training complex was accountability. Brett Brown, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Al Horford all responded to Josh Richardson’s assertion that there needs to be more of it in the Sixers locker room.
It was a good vibe. The players met in the morning and went over some of their frustrations, talked about the issues currently bogging them down on a three-game losing streak, and then went out and had what they called a hard practice. They’re in Houston for a game with James Harden and the Rockets tonight.
One quote was sort of related to the accountability thing but was worth its own sidebar, and it was this from Embiid:
Derek Bodner, The Athletic: Over the last couple of weeks, the starting lineup has struggled offensively. What have you seen in that regard?
Joel Embiid: We’ve just got to look at ourselves and see what we can do individually. We’ve got to help each other even if it means being outside of your comfort zone, for the greater (good), to help the team win. Meaning that, if you’ve got to space and shoot it, you’ve got to do it. We need everybody to buy in to that and we’ll be fine, we’re going to be fine. We’re still finding our groove, we haven’t been totally healthy, the whole starting lineup and like I said, we’ll be fine.
Some people interpreted that as a direct shot at Ben Simmons, and maybe it was. Only Joel Embiid really knows.
For what it’s worth, he said something similar about midway through December, explaining that if teams are going to double-team other guys and leave Simmons open, that he can help the situation by shooting those jump shots.
It’s certainly not the only problem, Ben’s shooting, but I think we all know that it can help open things up a bit more in the half court, which is where those tough, grind-it-out, 4th quarter playoff possessions are going to take place. But Embiid can help the team by protecting the basketball and cutting down on sloppy turnovers, Al Horford can help by making shots, and Brett Brown can help by trying to turn this heavy post-up team into some semblance of the motion offense he really wants to run. Everybody can do something to help out, to Embiid’s original point about seeing “what we can do individually.”