The Sixers started the season 8-2. They suddenly find themselves at 8-6.
They lost their fourth straight, 118-113, to the Pacers at Gainbride Fieldhouse Saturday night to start off a tough six-game road trip. They take on the Jazz in Utah on Tuesday night.
The Sixers are still without Joel Embiid and Matisse Thybulle, who remain in the league’s healthy and safety protocols. Ben Simmons (personal reasons) remains out.
Here are a few observations from the night.
- It was good to see Tobias Harris come out aggressive for the second straight game. He took a pull-up three above the break in transition then hit another off a Tyrese Maxey drive. A couple possession later, Harris was able to cut backdoor and Maxey hit him with a perfect bounce pass.
- Maxey seemed to pick up right where he left off. His assertiveness is a welcomed sight as well.
- After a timeout, the Pacers stepped their defense up and the Sixers’ offense went dormant. Andre Drummond, who’s done well stay within himself as a Sixer, got overzealous on a couple touches and Myles Turner made him pay. Turner’s strong defense fueled Indiana’s transition game, as the Pacers went on a 16-4 run to take control of the game.
- Good thing Harris was in there. He had 17 of the Sixers’ 25 in the first quarter.
- The rest of the Sixers’ offense was just brutal. Indiana continued to use its defense to fuel its offense. Justin Holiday was scorching hot, hitting 5 of 6 from three and 7 of his 8 his shots from the floor for 19 points.
- All things considered, the Sixers actually finished the half in decent shape. The Pacers shot 67.4 percent from the field and hit 9 of 15 from three. Other than Harris (24 points) and Maxey (10 points), nobody could really get going for the Sixers. A Danny Green eight-point spurt — capped off by a late three — pulled the Sixers to within 10 at 70-60 at the half. Shooting variance is a thing. The Sixers just need to get the offense going a tad to slow down the Pacers’ fast break.
- Drummond has played the pick-and-roll extremely well to start the second half. The Sixers actually got good offensive possessions and that helped them set up their half-court defense. The free throw line helped the Sixers chip away, getting to within eight. Harris up to 9 of 10 from the line, a great sign.
- The Sixers’ bench had a brutal night. Indiana was able to blow the game open during both halves as the bench trickled in. The reserves had 14 points late in the third. Indiana is still shooting a ridiculous percentage.
- While the Sixers’ defense hasn’t been very good, the bigger issue is their offense. They’re just churning out bad possession after bad possession and it’s giving the Pacers easy looks on the other end. Indiana takes a 12-point lead into the fourth.
- In a peculiar move, Doc Rivers went to rookie Charles Bassey over Paul Reed as his backup five in the second half. It’ll be interesting to hear what Doc has to say about that decision.
- Green left the game in the third and appeared to be favoring the hamstring that kept him out of the lineup for three games. He went to the locker room and did not return.
- The mostly bench lineup just hasn’t been very good on either end. Milton and Georges Niang have been great lately, but neither player had a good night. Furkan Korkmaz’s struggles continued. If the Sixers stage a late comeback, it will likely come with the starters back in the game.
- Maxey made a three from the corner to make it an eight-point Indy lead. Then, the Sixers actually played defense, as the Pacers couldn’t buy a basket. A strong Maxey drive off another Indiana miss cut the deficit to five with just under three minutes left.
- Just a couple brutal possessions on both ends for the Sixers. Maxey commits his fifth foul as the Pacers were scrambling on offense. After Malcolm Brogdon made 1 of 2 from the line, Drummond took yet another ill-advised shot around the basket. Then, former Sixer T.J. McConnell took advantage of Maxey’s foul trouble by weaving his way to a trio of late baskets.
- The Sixers shot 42.7 percent from the field. They played entirely too much 1-on-1 basketball. Harris finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds and was the Sixers’ best player. Maxey had 24 points. The Sixers could’ve used another player getting hot.