In the last ten days or so, the Sixers have gone from blowing out the best team in the NBA on Christmas Day, to now losing four in a row.
The 76ers have been incredibly inconsistent this season (to say the least), and with that has come a string of strange and unpredictable losses. Friday night against the Rockets, however, was NOT one of those odd losses.
The Sixers walked into Houston in the midst of a three-game losing streak and with absolutely zero momentum. Players were starting to bicker, people were tired, and the Rockets play a high-tempo offense designed to kill a team like the Sixers.
Philadelphia fell to 23-14 on the season, dropping this one by a score of 118-108. Some key takeaways from the loss:
Failed to Respond to the Call
Prior to the inter-conference matchup, a lot was said at the Sixers’ practice facility about “effort” and “accountability”. Al Horford, Joel Embiid, and Josh Richardson somewhat led the charge in that regard. The general vibe among the media was that a lot of those comments were directed at Ben Simmons.
Somewhat ironically, Simmons was the only one who appeared to bring his A-game in Houston. Horford and Richardson both scored just 7 points, and Embiid was significantly outplayed by his center counterpart: Clint Capela (30 points and 14 rebounds compared to 20 points and 12 rebounds).
Simmons, on the other hand, posted his 25th career triple-double (29 points 13 rebounds 11 assists).
Road Woes Continue
The 76ers are now 7-12 on the road. 86% of the team’s losses have come away from home. Obviously, that is a pretty significant statistic, and one that has been drilled to death when talking about the Sixers. While it’s common for teams to perform better at home, Philly’s inability to show up on the road is quickly costing them points in the standings.
Similar to what was mentioned before, the Sixers are having somewhat of an identity crisis when it comes to “rising to the occasion”. Friday night’s game against the Rockets was on national television against one of the best teams in the NBA. If not even THAT could wake up the Sixers, that’s concerning.
James Harden is Pretty Good
In my humble, “Philly beat writer” opinion, James Harden (and the Rockets in general) have a pretty gross play-style. They jack up a ton of contested threes and hunt for shooting fouls constantly. However, Harden without a doubt was exceptional in his team’s victory a few days ago.
Harden recorded a 44 point triple-double while shooting 50% or higher from both the field and from beyond the arc. He was perfect from the free-throw line (12/12) and was exceptional in the closing minutes of the game. Despite Philly throwing everything they had at him, Harden was simply too good.
The Sixers are playing a dangerous game at the moment. Trade rumors are swirling, the calls to fire Brett Brown are growing louder and louder, and the potential for a full-on locker room collapse is growing. The team will have an opportunity to once again right the ship this Monday against the Oklahoma City Thunder, in Philly.
Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports