The Philadelphia 76ers stopped by Indiana in their latest road match-up. Having lost their past five games on the road, last night’s game was all the more important. Raising the stakes, the Sixers held only a half-game lead over the Pacers for the Fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Winning the jump, the Sixers looked to set a physical tone right away. Crashing the boards, Ben Simmons led the team showing off the extra effort. Simmons also showed the scorer’s mentality that many have waited for. It really was exciting to see Simmons establish dominance, you could really see all that makes him such a special player.
The team’s defense was also very strong in the early going. The Pacers allowed ten minutes to go by before their first substitution, in that time, the starters only scored 16 points. The quarter wasn’t all highlights though as the team struggled to shoot from distance. The Sixers finished the quarter shooting a measly one-for-nine from three. The need for shooting was and is painfully obvious for this team.
The shooting woes continued into the Second Quarter, the offense struggled to find its footing early on. Defense remained the calling-card for the team as they struggled to hold their lead. Ben Simmons continued to put on a show, aggressively controlling the tempo opening up shots for himself and others.
Shooting struggles continued to be an issue for the Sixers, unable to get theirs to fall. It was quickly becoming clear that the Sixers were going to have to find another way to seal the win.
Defense led to offense as the Sixers began to pull away bit by bit. The physicality between the two teams started to ramp up and both teams looked to be feeling a bit chippy.
The Sixers’ lack of shooting was quickly catching up to the team. The inability to score from outside was hurting the Sixers and it was only made worse with each missed three. The Pacers were able to take advantage of all the shots the Sixers were missing and pulled the game closer and closer.
If it wasn’t for the powerful offensive performance from Ben Simmons the Sixers would have been sunk much earlier. Thanks to Simmons, the Pacers were only able to tie the game heading into the fourth. It was clear that someone else would need to step up for the Sixers to win.
In steps Josh Richardson. The recently named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, Richardson willed the Sixers to stay in the game. The physicality continued to ramp up as both teams tried to grind to victory. This game was quickly shaping up to be a boxing match on the court.
Richardson came alive as the go-to scorer for the Sixers. With creativity, poise, and a bit of luck, Richardson put on an absolute show in the fourth. Richardson is beyond valuable for the Sixers. Between his offense, defense, and contract, Richardson is a premier value in the NBA.
The Sixers eventually fell apart, no longer able to live by Richardson playing hero ball. The Pacers would take the game and Fifth place in the east.
In the end, the Sixers shot themselves in the foot ironically by not being able to shoot. They were an absolutely depressing 6-33 from three. That’s a grotesque 18.2%. Now it’s no surprise that the Sixers are a poor shooting team, but the fact that they are waiting so long to add the necessary players is inexcusable.
Not much else to say but to get ready for the next game. The Sixers will have a nice break in their schedule as they face the Nets, Bulls, Knicks, and Nets again in a favorable four-game stretch. The team cannot take anything for granted though as these must all be considered must-wins.
Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia 76ers, Eagles, and Phillies writer for Philly Sports Network. Follow me on Twitter @ZCiavoPSN and follow the rest of our team for more quality content.
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