The Sixers narrowly escaped a cataclysmic ending against the Washington Wizards. In a game that was supposed to be a cake-walk, the Sixers struggled more than they should have and showed that they may not yet be ready for the playoffs ahead especially after their most recent injury.
A Substantial Loss
Bigger than the game itself was a terrifying injury scare involving Ben Simmons. midway through the third quarter, Simmons inexplicably came up limping. It’s tough to tell when exactly he may have gotten injured but he headed straight for the locker and it wasn’t long before he exited in street clothes.
While initial reports seemed promising (as in no torn ACL or MCL), it was announced that Simmons in-fact suffered a partially dislocated left patella. This is a major loss no matter the amount of time he misses. As of this moment, there is no timetable for his return.
The Good & The Bad
There’s always a mix of good and bad takeaways from a game. We’ll look at the bad first because A) I want to end on a happy note and B) I feel like it.
Struggling Against a Struggling Team
The Wizards are a very weak team overall (without their stars) but they are especially thin at Center. For the second game in a row, the Sixers had the chance to work Embiid in the post early but failed to do so.
The fact is that the Wizards had a shot tonight and it really comes down to the Sixers’ coasting yet again. For some reason, both players and coaches with the team have issues preparing to face lower competition.
Why that is the case, I cannot say but they are certainly aware of it. Yet, for some reason, they refuse to prepare properly. It is truly one of the strangest enigmas of the NBA. Hopefully, the team can figure out a solution in the future instead of just acknowledging their problem.
There is no one on the Sixers’ roster who can replace Ben Simmons. With that being said, the Sixers have no choice. It is unclear how much time Simmons miss, but he’s already out for Friday’s match-up against the Utah Jazz and it could be much longer.
The temptation will be to reinsert Al Horford into the starting lineup but that would be a grave error. Instead, Brett Brown should temporarily move Tobias Harris back to Power Forward and insert Matisse Thybulle into the starting lineup to encourage defense energy.
While Thybulle is not Simmons, he adds a three-and-D quality the team sorely needs. More minutes for Matisse is the choice Brett Brown will hopefully find easy.
Shake Milton made a three to open up scoring for the team. Milton went on to have an encouraging game, his second in a row. Shake thus closed the game against the Spurs and rang un a new one against the Wizards.
Finishing with 14 points while shooting 3/5 from three, Milton filled his role properly and the team came out with the win.
This is what should be expected of Milton. Yes, he may be the Sixer’s Point Guard of the future, but that would be in time. In the meanwhile, enjoy the Shake Milton you have, not the one you create in your head.
Jojo Punches in Another One
The one Sixer that the fans haven’t had to worry about is Joel Embiid who is averaging almost 33 points and 13.5 rebounds over his first three games. Embiid once again poured in a strong showing finishing with 30 points and 11 rebounds to go along with three steals and two blocks.
While it would be nice to see Brett Brown run the offense through Embiid throughout the game, that’s hardly Embiid’s fault.
Embiid has been phenomenal since the seeding games started and has really lived up to his talk during the hiatus. If there is one Sixer to longer be concern about it’s Joel Embiid. He’s hungry, healthy, and a danger to the rest of the league.
Brett Brown Makes Progress
Brett Brown has struggled to balance minutes. He has also struggled to motivate his players game-in and game-out. Brown is even rumored to be on the “hot seat”.
While his job is not exactly safe yet, Brown has made progress in one department. Even if it was only for this game, Brett Brown did a much better job distributing minutes among his players.
Burks Burks played 20 minutes, Korkmaz 19, and Thybulle 17. While Matisse Thybulle has certainly earned more than 17 minutes, it’s not uncommon for a coach to limit rookies.
Best of all, Raul Neto didn’t even see the court. Now that might be the biggest positive from the game.
It wasn’t much and he wasn’t able to light much of a fire under his players, but at least he’s figured out his rotation.
The Sixers face another potential trap game this Friday against the Orlando Magic. Tip-off is at 6:30 PM EST and whether or not Ben Simmons plays, this will be a must-watch game as things are starting to click but the team is still far from true “contender” status. Hopefully, they can prove something to everyone.
Mandatory Credit: Ashley Landis/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports