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The Philadelphia 76ers, hailed by many prior to the season, are off to a 1-4 start. They rank 21st in net rating (minus-3.1), 25th in defensive rating (117.1) and ninth in offensive rating (114.0). James Harden has generally been excellent. Joel Embiid’s bounced back following a rough opening two games, though hasn’t reached his MVP form to this point, especially on defense. Tyrese Maxey’s ebbed and flowed, though been solid overall. The bench has labored through stretches.
The most pressing worry among most fans is the defense, which has looked discombobulated, apathetic and erratic through five games. Since 2017-18, the Sixers have placed no worse than 14th in defensive rating, including two top-two finishes. This is new territory for an Embiid-led club. Seventy-five percent of fans consider this Philadelphia’s glaring flaw, with the insufficient bench production coming in a distant second.
An array of new faces are in the Sixers’ rotation, which contributes to their lack of cohesion defensively. But holdovers from 2021-22, such as Harden, Maxey and Tobias Harris, are committing miscommunications nightly together, while Embiid’s failed to patrol the paint properly. The transition efforts are poor as well. Issues are abundant, and concerns are warranted.
Philadelphia will have the chance to start making good on its perceived defensive potential when it squares off with the Toronto Raptors Friday at 7:30 p.m. EST inside Scotiabank Arena.