10 Thoughts After a Crap Sixers Loss

Photo Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Typical NBA.

The Sixers played a great game at home on Saturday night, took out the Warriors on national television, and had everybody feeling good for 48 hours.

Then they went to Memphis, Joel Embiid was scratched before tip off, and the Grizz blew their doors blown off in a 35-point loss.

Such is life in the regular season. Amazing wins, crap losses, myriad injuries, back-to-backs, etc. This Sixers season has been such a herky-jerk ride with all of the COVID stuff, starters coming in and out of the lineup, and then Ben Simmons sitting at home and playing Call of Duty while the rest of the team tries to win games despite being $33 million below the cap.

As we settle into mid-December, here are 10 random thoughts about the Sixers:

  1. Tobias Harris is what he is. He’s a nice player. He’s not a $35 million dollar player. It’s impossible for us to know what the COVID recovery is like for a professional athlete, and we’ll absolutely give him the benefit of the doubt there, but even when totally healthy he’s a #2 or #2B scoring option. Right now his numbers are very poor. He’s almost shooting close to 30% from three! This team desperately needs a complementary piece for Joel Embiid, because Harris can’t be that 1B scorer on a nightly basis.
  2. Doc Rivers’ biggest task right now is getting Tyrese Maxey to play like Tyrese Maxey when Embiid is NOT on the floor. You see how deferential he is when just tossing the ball to Joel and clearing out, whereas when Joel isn’t out there he’s slashing, driving, initiating, and opening things up for everybody else.
  3. Can’t say enough about Matisse Thybulle’s performance on Saturday night. Steph Curry shot just 2-11 against him and 1-9 from three. If he can get that three point number back up to where he was as a rookie (35.7%), and continue to slash and cut the way he is, you’ve got a super-efficient 3 and D player.
  4. Embiid has now shot double-digit free throws in six of his last eight games. It’s a major improvement from what we saw earlier in the year, and him getting to the line was a big part of the Sixers’ success last season.
  5. You like Danny Green better as a starter or coming off the bench? There’s not much difference in the numbers. He’s shooting about the same from the field, though he has a slightly better +/- as a bench player. He’s committing fewer fouls as a guy drawing easier assignments in those five games where he came off the pine.
  6. Furkan Korkmaz can’t hit anything from deep. He’s 29.5% from three, which is the lowest number he’s posted since playing 14 games as a rookie and finishing at 29.4%.
  7. The Sixers are now shooting 45.8% from the floor, which is 15th in the league, so right smack in the middle. We knew they weren’t going to be the #1 FG% team this season, so it was fun while it lasted.
  8. The Sixers take 31.7 threes per game, which is 26th. They shoot 34.9% from three, which is 15th. Since Doc Rivers got here, there’s been a disparity between 3PA and the number of shots going in, and it feels like a constant struggle to push that volume higher. Sure, part of it is trying to establish Embiid in the post and play through him, but they shouldn’t be a bottom-five 3PA team with Seth Curry on the roster.
  9. The Sixers have a 109.7 defensive rating, which is 21st in the NBA. That’s one of the lowest numbers they’ve posted in a long time. You really can feel the lack of oomph on the defensive end with guys constantly out and Ben Simmons remaining off the floor.
  10. This team is tied for dead last in the league with a 96.0 PACE. That means they’re only logging 96 possessions per game on average. Typically the Sixers are a top PACE team in the NBA, and finished 12th last year, with a number just below 100. During the Brett Brown years, before Al Horford, they finished 8th and 4th in this category. So they’re playing slower this year without Ben in the lineup. No duh.

That’s all for now. The Sixers are 15-13 and remain in sixth place in a clumpy Eastern Conference. Every win is crucial, because we’re just biding time until Daryl Morey sends Simmo the Savage packing and brings back what we hope is a “difference maker.” It’s just about treading water and trying to get healthy during the early part of the regular season, then things begin to get real.