The Philadelphia 76ers are now 9-22 on the road this season after a narrow 136-130 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night. Shake Milton’s career-high 39 points weren’t enough to overcome the fact that the Sixers’ defense was lost without Ben Simmons (nerve impingement in his lower back) and Joel Embiid (left shoulder sprain).
Now, Philly will be down another starter for their next tough road game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night. Josh Richardson collided with Alec Burks on Sunday and left after playing just 10 minutes. Richardson has entered the NBA’s concussion protocol, and has been listed as out against the Lakers.
The Sixers aren’t built to succeed without Simmons as is, given their lack of high-level ball handling and playmaking. They need more perimeter creation when healthy, so this is an even bigger issue for the team without Richardson as well.
Milton’s strong play has been a rare bright spot for the Sixers lately. He’s seriously stepped up with an opportunity to play increased minutes and start the last four games, which I wrote about in more detail here as he earned Sixer of the Week. (LB’s Steve Lipman wrote a good piece on Milton today as well, looking at the front office’s decision-making and how they may have found another keeper.)
Along with Milton taking on a big role, Alec Burks is next in line to take on extra minutes and ball handling duties without Richardson — Burks played 25 minutes against the Clippers, while Raul Neto still didn’t play.
The Lakers continue to put together a terrific season. At 46-13, ranking in the top five in both offensive and defensive rating, they’re sitting in 1st place in the Western Conference, five wins ahead of the 2nd-place Denver Nuggets.
The Sixers always struggle on the road even when they’re healthy. Pursuing a win against the Lakers with such a depleted roster is going to be a tall order to say the least.