In my pregame review for this matchup, I mentioned how the Sixers were entering Indianapolis with “more questions than answers”. After yet another crushing defeat via the hands of an Eastern Conference foe, that list of questions appears to be growing even longer.
The Philadelphia 76ers dropped their third straight game in a row, losing by a score of 115-97 to the Indiana Pacers. Josh Richardson paced things for the Sixers with 20 points while the Pacers had seven scorers in double figures. Big man Domantas Sabonis led the game with 23.
The Pacers leap the Sixers in the standings, moving up to the 5th seed while Philly drops down to 6. Prior to the NBA season starting, many fans and analysts predicted the Sixers to be contending for the #1 seed. Sitting at the back end of the conference heading into the new year feels like a massive disappointment.
Things started off relatively smoothly in the first quarter. Ben Simmons and Richardson were seemingly in rhythm, both getting their fair share of points early on. However, with Joel Embiid sitting (left knee soreness), the Sixers decided to use Kyle O’Quinn in the starting lineup. Pacers head coach Nate McMillan targeted him as the weak point, as his team scored 29 in the first quarter primarily through the pick and roll.
The second and third quarters were pretty much entirely dominated by Indiana. They stretched their lead to nine heading into halftime by taking advantage of one of the worst Sixers’ lineups I’ve seen all year, and by the time the second half rolled around you could tell the Philly unit had given up. The Sixers trailed by 30ish for most of the third quarter.
The 76ers enter 2020 on the backs of some truly ugly performances. They are now 23-13 overall and 7-11 on the road. For a team as talented as they are, their lack of consistency will ultimately cost them some key homecourt games come playoff time.
The Sixers are back in action Friday night against the Rockets in Houston. Yet another test to see where this team truly stands.
Al Horford: Horford recorded a +/- of -26 on the night. He shot 2/12 from the field and recorded just 3 rebounds. He has begun to draw negative attention for not living up to that big contract he received this offseason.
Joel Embiid: When Embiid sits, Philly struggles. The 76ers have now dropped to 3-4 in games where JoJo does not play.
3-Point Shooting: The 76ers shot 6-26 (20.7%) from beyond the arc in Tuesday’s game. With the NBA trade deadline quickly approaching, Elton Brand and the Sixers could be in the market for a shooter.
Shake Milton: Due to some garbage time minutes being available, former G-League superstar Shake Milton actually got to play tonight. He recorded 8 points, 7 rebounds, and a +/- of +16. Solid night for the 23-year-old.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports