The 76ers had a chance to gain a solid lead in the race for second that is the Eastern Conference. Facing a team plagued by injuries, the Sixers, on paper, had every right to leave Brooklyn with a win.
It was announced early yesterday afternoon that Joel Embiid would miss the game with an upper respiratory illness. While their star was absent, it was still thought to be an easily attainable win by the Sixers. You can tell by the way they played that the Sixers felt the same way. The Nets were hungry and driven, while the Sixers were sluggish and disinterested.
What went wrong?
As if it were some tightly kept secret, the Sixers seemingly forgot that Spencer Dinwiddie is an offensive menace. Finishing the game with 24 points, Dinwiddie had his way once again against the Sixers. Late coming over screens, leaving shooters open, and refusing to box out this team played as bad as they possibly could.
Ben Simmons led the team with 20 points on 7-10 shooting in what was nearly the only efficient offensive performance. Simmons’ offense was much more impressive than his defense, that’s impressive considering how often he has refused to score. It is also a sign of just how poor the team’s defense was tonight.
The bottom line is the Sixers thought they could coast against this team and they were wrong. It is not the first time the team has approached a game like this and the fault is first and foremost on the Head Coach Brett Brown. Brown is a players coach which is all fine and good until your players decide to take plays, quarters, and now games off. Either Brown needs to find a way to motivate the team or the Sixers need to find a coach who can.
For the record, it’s not to say that “players coaches” are bad coaches. Coaches need to hold themselves in a way that their players respect them instead of walking all over them like it is their first day.
How to improve?
Brett Brown needs to look in the mirror and decide what he wants his coaching career to look like. Is he satisfied coaching a fun group of players or does he want to lead these men and push them to be the best versions of themselves. For them to say when it’s all said and done “I’m happy Coach pushed me to be great” that is the type of coach that wins what matters.
After the coach it’s up to the players to decide their destiny for themselves, do they want to be good or great? If our roster is full of players who are happy being good then Elton Brand need to either change the mentality or change the roster in a way that shows a desire to win.
Joel Embiid returning will be a huge uplifting for the team but the NBA is no longer a place where a team can live or die based on one player. The team will need to find fight elsewhere, players will need to fill that void and carry on whether or not Embiid is playing.
Where do we go from here?
We have now officially passed December 15th, which means that most players signed during the summer are now available to be traded. The team clearly needs to make a move for a player or players who can carry the load when Embiid is out. The team is suffering from a lack of depth and sorely needs to improve the roster. One way or another, Elton Brand must find a way to improve this team.
The Sixers will next face Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat on Wednesday 12/18. This game will be televised on ESPN with a 7:00 PM EST tip-off. If you cannot watch on ESPN be sure to listen live at 97.5 FM the Fanatic.
Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports