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Embiidless Sixers Continue to Flounder. Let’s Vent.

A game without Embiid feels like Christmas without presents.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Philadelphia 76ers John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Should I have expected this? Absolutely. But once more, hours before tip-off, word came that Joel Embiid would be sitting out tonight to continue recovery for his back tightness. It’s been an ongoing issue and was exacerbated a bit by the fact that he played almost 50 minutes during the triple OT heart-breaker to OKC. There’s been a lot of moaning and groaning about his minutes or games played, but the most important thing is to keep the guy healthy because he’s the heart and soul to this team/organization/city/fandom. If he needs to sit for a few games to get right, by all means sit.

So how would the team compensate for losing their wunderkind? Well, all eyes were on the other young supernova, Ben Simmons. And, unfortunately, I have some bad news. In lieu of a more traditional recap, let’s just vent for a minute.

The game was a series of runs and mid way through the 3rd quarter the Sixers flew out to a 16 point lead. And then IT happened. The “IT” that seems to keep happening every game lately. It’s the absolute collapse where perpetual turnovers, bad shots/shot selection, and poor defense rears its ugly head. And then comes Sixers pressing which exacerbates everything. It’s exhausting.

I don’t know how and where to find the answers because we’ve been through this before. The only constant ISN’T just Brett Brown, it’s an ill-fitting roster. When one cog is taken out, things get more difficult. When another, things start to become dysfunctional. Without the ability or play-making of Joel Embiid, an ideal Markelle Fultz, or JJ Redick, who experienced tightness in his hamstring and left the game in the 3rd, who is going to step up? The answer tonight was no one.

Joel Embiid is the heart and soul of this team. Without him, the team looks bound for the lottery. Raised expectations have really sapped some of the fun of the year and I think it’s starting to wear on the team while they free-fall as well. Something’s got to give and I hope a confidence boosting win is on the horizon because losing this many games to poorer-record teams will only lead to more upheaval.

Bottom line, this isn’t fun.


Odds & Ends

  • Ben Simmons started out making a two jump shots and looked to attack the basket early on. Then, that aggressiveness disappeared. With Embiid out, Simmons NEEDS to take more shots or create more plays. That’s a high ask for a rookie but we know he’s capable of it. That said, we all knew that shooting was a hole in his game. It didn’t matter then with Embiid being a behemoth or when Redick and Covington were shooting lights out. When it’s all on him, we’re watching a rookie stumble a bit. And, in the grand scheme, that’s okay.
  • Speaking of the two perimeter players, Redick started to get going after a rough start but then caught the injury bug. Covington continues to be ice cold since coming back from his back injury. When these two guys aren’t hitting shots from beyond, then the team isn’t going to succeed much. Early this year they were pretty unstoppable, but regression is a mean mistress... or something?
  • This team really lacks isolation scorers, especially from the bench unit. Shifting guys around may help to alleviate some pressure but there literally just aren’t enough guys that can create their own shot effectively or consistently.
  • Brett Brown isn’t beyond criticism, by any means. When things start to fall apart, he is going to be one of the first one to look to for answers. Simplifying the offensive scheme may hurt more than help and there really isn’t enough practice time to make that many drastic changes. Unless this REALLY starts to get out of control, I think Brett will just continue on like he’s always done. But the clock will start to tick on him, which is unfortunate since this SHOULD have been his Year 1 with actual talent to work with.
  • Speaking of talent, let’s just say that spending a good portion of your team’s cap on veterans should be a little more fruitful than what we’re getting at the moment.
  • Here’s the final point I’d like to make. This team overachieved early on and our expectations were justly raised. As injuries hit and guys began to regress to the mean, the team has begun to falter a bit. The young guys are having the usual growing pains and the vets are unfortunately ineffective. It’s an 82 game seasons and teams are going to hit some peaks and valleys. However, the Sixers have 2 budding superstar caliber players and it’s sure as hell easier when you have them to wade through it all. After writing all of that, I feel a little better. Do you?

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