Sixers struggle to find stride

Feb. 12, 2020

By Robert Bloom
Staff Writer

Is it time for the Philadelphia 76ers to hit the panic button? The Sixers were sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a 34-21 record as of Feb. 10. Although that record might seem promising, the Sixers are in deep, deep trouble.

Philly’s franchise player Joel “The Process” Embiid has been out since Jan. 6 with a torn ligament in his left finger. As of Jan. 22, the Sixers were 5-2 in the games played without Embiid. Since his return on Jan. 28, the Sixers are 3-4 and have angered fans with their poor performance.

When the Sixers played the Knicks on Jan. 18, they almost lost to the worst team in the NBA, and all of their flaws were on full display. The team lacks outside shooting, a true point guard and a real backup to Embiiid. 

Many teams cannot handle how big the Sixers are, but when teams find a way to stop the Sixers from scoring on the inside, it’s game over for Philly. The lackluster shooting that surrounds Embiid needs to be fixed if the Sixers want to survive past the first round of the playoffs. 

Philadelphia is really missing its former three-point specialist JJ Redick, who left via free agency this past off-season. The Sixers have also been unable to replace the talent of All-Star Jimmy Butler.

The Sixers are a hard team to watch. Aside from their collective weaknesses, the individual personalities on the team have become an issue. There is no camaraderie among the teammates, and it shows in their play. It seems like no one wants to step up and take leadership, and that is another thing Philly lost in Butler, a true leader. Embiid needs to step up and take control of his team and light a fire under them if he wants the rest of the season to be successful.

One of the few bright spots for the Sixers is rookie Matisse Thybulle. Thybulle has proven himself to be an elite defender with an average outside shot. With an improved shot, the Sixers have found themselves an elite two-way star. 

Along with playing fantastic defense, Thybulle has emerged as a fan favorite and brings a much-needed spark to the team when he is in the game. The spark he provides reminds fans of what T.J. McConnell brought to the table when he was part of the Sixers, and they could certainly use more players like him on their team.

“Many teams cannot handle how big the Sixers are, but when teams find a way to stop the Sixers from scoring on the inside, it’s game over for Philly.”

The overall personality of the Sixers is just blah. All-Star Ben Simmons is an electric player,  but he lacks personality. Forward Tobias Harris and guard Josh Richardson do not take control at all, and forward Al Horford⁠—who is supposed to be this great leader⁠—seems to be doing nothing besides having the worst season of his career. 

With all the problems the Sixers have, the bench is the biggest of them all. Mike Scott is terrible and does absolutely nothing to contribute to the team, yet he get minutes due to the lack of depth and bad coaching decisions. 

Furthermore, there is no point guard who can back up Simmons. Are Trey Burke and Raul Neto really our backup guards? The drop off in talent is immense, and neither can live up to the work Simmons does while he is out of the game. In fact, the lone bright spots on the bench are forward Furkan Korkmaz and Thybulle. 

“There is no camaraderie among the teammates, and it shows in their play.”

So, the answer to my question is yes, the Sixers need to hit the panic button. If they do not fix their problems now, they will not advance past the first round of playoffs and Coach Brett Brown will surely be run out of town. 

It is going to be interesting to see the Sixers the rest of the way. On the Feb. 6 trade deadline, they acquired guard Alec Burks and forward Glenn Robinson III from the Warriors in exchange for two second-round picks. Although this will not completely fix the team’s problems, it will help improve the Sixers’ scoring coming off the bench. Now that the trade deadline has come and gone, it’s time for Philly to step up.

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