3 takeaways from the Sixers loss to the Pacers

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Indiana Pacers’ Bruce Brown (11) tries to get a shot past Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey (0), Joel Embiid (21) and Tobias Harris (12) during the first half of an NBA basketball in-season tournament game, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The depleted Philadelphia 76ers lost to the Indiana Pacers 132-126 in their second game of the NBA’s In-Season Tournament. The Sixers now drop to 1-1 in their group and 8-2 on the season, while the Pacers increase to 2-0 and are 7-4.

Philadelphia’s 8-game-win streak to start the year (after their opening loss) has now been broken, yet there were still positive signs despite the loss. Philadelphia showed determination and grit in the loss but ultimately fell to the Pacers’ pace (pun intended) as well as their own mental mistakes.

De’Anthony Melton’s Breakout Game

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Philadelphia 76ers’ De’Anthony Melton, left, goes up for a shot past Detroit Pistons’ Jalen Duren during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

With both Kelly Oubre Jr. and Nic Batum missing the game, Philadelphia knew they were going to have to have someone else step up in order to compete with the fast-flying Pacers. De’Anthony Melton answered the call. By the final whistle, De’Anthony had exploded with 30 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 three-pointers. For Melton, despite the loss, this was by far his best game this year.

Melton had been in an offensive slump since the season began, something that Philadelphia fans had been waiting for him to break out of. Before this game, Melton was averaging 8.1 points on 32.5% shooting from the field and 32.6% shooting from beyond the arc.

The 25-year-old was posied as a breakout candidate for Philadelphia with the James Harden situation but had yet to really seize the opportunity. That changed with this game. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come for the defensive ace as his contract is expiring in the offseason.

The good and not good enough of Tobias Harris

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris reacts after making a basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Tobias Harris had an impressive offensive performance tonight. He scored a solid 22 points, pulled in 7 rebounds, and even picked up 3 assists. He shot a respectable 11/17 from the field but failed to make his only 3-point attempt. He even returned to the game after a scary injury on a drive to the basket. The only criticism that you can give to Tobias’s offense would be the low three-point volume.

If he wants to reestablish himself as the third star next to Joel and Tyrese, he needs to increase his three-point volume. That being said, for a team missing two of their key forwards, Tobias stepped up and played solid basketball for 37 minutes.

The Sixers bench is VITAL

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FILE – Los Angeles Clippers forward Nicolas Batum plays the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, in Seattle. James Harden got his trade to the Clippers. The Sixers sent Harden, P.J. Tucker and Filip Petrušev to Los Angeles for Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, Nic Batum, K.J. Martin, a 2028 unprotected first-round pick, two second-round picks, a 2029 draft-pick swap and additional first-rounder from a third team, a person familiar with the trade told The Associated Press Tuesday, Oct. 31.(AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson, File)

The Philadelphia 76ers had a lot working against them this game. Tyrese Haliburton’s incredible play (33 points, 15 assists), Obi Toppin’s resurgence (27 points, 12/15 from the field), poor defensive adjustments, and, of course, the Sixers bench. Out of the 126 points scored by Philadelphia, the Sixers bench accumulated only 6 points. 2 from Patrick Beverly, 2 from Paul Reed, and 2 from Marcus Morris.

While it is important to mention that Kelly Oubre Jr. and Nic Batum were out for this game, the Sixers bench needs to find a way to contribute more. While the Sixers’ starters were able to keep them close, the Pacers’ bench was able to score 33 points compared to the Sixers’ 6 bench points.