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76ers-Kings Preview/Game Thread: A “Must Win”? In December?

“Strikes and gutters, ups and downs” - The Dude... and Brett Brown, probably.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Chicago Bulls Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Philadelphia 76ers where the expectations are made up and the wins don’t matter! Or that’s what it used to be. It’s been a strange experience to switch gears towards immediate success, hanging on every point and possession. Everything seems to be hypercritical to the point of nebulous as fans seem to look for meaning or reason to why the team succeeds or fails... more so the latter as of late.

Sans Embiid the 76ers still looked to be pulling out a win in Chicago last night until the final minutes of the game... when everything fell apart. Missing wide open 3s and turning the ball over on one end while faltering defensively is not really a recipe for success. Considering this team’s history, Brett Brown has been under fire which is both understandable yet uninspired because it’s classic splitting based on success/failure. Have the past two weeks been disappointing? Absolutely. Can the team turn it around? We find out tonight.

The Sacramento Kings roll into town coming off a loss of their own to the Raptors. While George Hill will be sidelined due to illness, De’Aaron Fox looks to be upgraded to probable with a thigh contusion. Look for him and Frank Mason to get some burn. Zach Randolph, who rested on Sunday, will probably look to cause trouble again with his physical play.

Last time these two teams faced off (much like against Chicago last night) the 76ers lackadaisical play killed them on both ends and allowed the Kings to steal one late. Joel Embiid had a close basket blocked by Willie Cauley-Stein late in that one to help seal it. Let’s see if a rested JoJo plays like an Ace to help stop the free fall on this SEGABABA.

UPDATE[5:41pm]: It appears as thought Joel Embiid will be out tonight due to back tightness. Welp.

Passing Thoughts

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Fellow LB commenter/twitter fam Eric Sidewater put together a great preview for tonight’s game, hitting a bunch of stats and figures that can fill in some blanks as to what’s helping and hurting this team. Give it a read and show him some love!

“Fire Brett Brown”

Like many of you, I was frustrated after last night’s game. I even vented some hot take-adjacent Brett Brown thoughts into the twitter void. Stepping back from it all, the reality is that the success and failure of this team is never just one thing or person (though Embiid really tilts the needle).

A popular refrain is to question Brett’s “rotations” or “lineups”. While sometimes there are some questionable choices, much like in seasons’ past, he’s working with what he’s got. The Sixers roster is just wonky by design because of Simmons and Embiid. Unfortunately, this team isn’t that deep, so being thin on the wings means there’s an inordinate amount of compensation and shifting from the other positions. Staggering minutes becomes difficult and as a result we’re left with lineups featuring only 1 shooter or only 1 play maker at times. On nights without Joel, this exercise becomes a little more difficult.

There’s a happy place in not absolving blame but also not throwing it all on one guy. Much like in season’s past I think Brett’s getting dealt some poor circumstances and getting blamed for things out of his control. He’s also not getting help from the type of players some folks have been wanting for years!

“The Vets”

So “VETERAN PRESENCE” hasn’t been all that great. There’s a greater conversation about the FA acquisitions that should happen. However, as of late it’s been disappointing just to watch the more experienced players make as much or more mistakes than the younger talent. I think part of it is asking guys to play beyond their roles, whether by practice or by circumstance. But, defensive lapses, brutal turnovers and just lack of execution from them is something that I didn’t expect.

Richaun Holmes has been pushing to takeover the back up center role and he’s steadily eating more and more into Amir Johnson’s minutes. I think AJ has had effort play moments this year but in my living-room-armchair opinion, he should be relegated to a “situational back-up” (foul trouble, match-up specific) rather than a hard and fast 2nd string center.

As far as the perimeter guys go, Jerryd Bayless’ expanded role is due to the lack of Markelle Fultz and to a lesser extent the thin wing ranks. J.J. Redick, I think, is being asked to do a little too much on a team without many play makers. That said, it’s inexcusable when these guys are making poor decisions or poor plays in crunch time. It is what it is, I suppose.

Game Info:

  • Date: December 19, 2017
  • Time: 7:00 p.m. EST
  • Place: Wells Fargo Center
  • TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia

Probable Starters:

  • Philadelphia: Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Joel Embiid Richaun Holmes?
  • Sacramento: NO IDEA (Kings seem to really switch up starters every game)

Injury Report

  • Philadelphia: Markelle Fultz, Justin Anderson, and Furkan Korkmaz are OUT. Joel Embiid is OUT
  • Sacramento: George Hill is OUT.

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