As if the Sixers needed any more injury issues, they lost the second half of their superstar tandem Wednesday night. Late in the first quarter, Joel Embiid collided with Ante Zizic and came up holding his left shoulder. Embiid left the bench for the locker room and came back before returning again to the locker room for the night.
The Sixers continued their road struggles without their two stars and fell to the pitiful Cleveland Cavaliers. If it wasn’t for Shake Milton’s 20 point performance this game would have no bright side. While Shake impressed, the rest of the team fell flat. Harris, Horford, and Richardson all struggled mightily. With Simmons and Embiid out for the foreseeable future, the state of this team is highly questionable at best.
Does this game mean anything?
Road struggles for the Sixers have been well documented this season. Losing one more on the road is not necessarily surprising but losing to this team of all teams is frustrating. The Cavaliers didn’t even have new addition Andre Drummond in the game. Injuries are frustrating, but this Sixers team on paper is significantly more talented than the Cavs. So why did they lose?
This roster shows some of the worst on-court chemistry I’ve seen in the NBA. GM Elton Brand put together an ill-fitting roster. Add Brett Brown’s nonsensical offense, and you have an absolute mess. The problem with the Sixers seemed to be spacing, but even with Embiid and Simmons out, Harris and Horford still struggled. Spacing is a problem, but it’s far from the only one.
Losing this game must be a wake-up call to the organization. There is a need for change. The offense, roster, coach, and the rest of the front office all need change. Whether that change is in philosophy or personnel, something must change. This game absolutely meant something and that something is that change is inevitable.
Outlook for the rest of the season
If you asked a Magic 8-Ball it would most likely answer “Outlook not so good”. The Sixers are in serious trouble, without their top stars, the team will struggle mightily to claim a top four seed in the East. If the Sixers cannot claim one of those seeds they will not have home-court advantage in the first series and we all know about the team’s road struggles.
It’s not that the Sixers should roll over and retool for next year, but they need to adjust if they’re going to have any chance to make it past the first round. Harris should become the focal point of the offense, see if he has that offensive leadership in him because the team will need it. The team also needs to make sure they’re giving their new additions the chance to shine. They traded for Burks and GR3 for a reason, let them provide that spark that’s needed. Finally, the team needs to continue to develop its young contributors, specifically Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton. Korkmaz and Milton are the future role players for this cash-strapped team, and they need as much experience as possible. Win or lose, cultivating experience is key.
The Sixers have a chance at a makeup game tonight against the Knicks back in Philadelphia. Simmons is out, and when asked, Brett Brown was unsure if Embiid would be available. The smart play for the Sixers would be to rest Embiid even if the MRI comes back clean.
Game-time is set for 7:00 PM EST and you can watch NBC Sports Philadelphia. If you’d rather listen you can tune into 97.5 FM the Fanatic.
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