The 76ers continue to have the same turnover problem they had during their tanking days.
The only difference is the current Sixers roster is loaded with standouts such as Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, and JJ Redick instead of lesser lights such as Tony Wroten, Michael Carter-Williams, Brandon Davies, Kendall Marshall, and JaKarr Sampson.
How else can you explain the Sixers’ committing 22 turnovers Tuesday night in a 106-99 victory over the struggling and undermanned Cleveland Cavaliers?
The Sixers (43-25) had their reasons for the excessive turnovers that night.
“A lot of it came on handoffs, miscommunications,” said All-Star center Joel Embiid, who committed a game-high six turnovers.
He acknowledged that several of his turnovers came on dribble handoffs with Redick. This was Embiid’s second game back after missing eight because of tendinitis in his left knee.
“We’re just getting back into the flow,” Embiid said. “We’re going to be fine, and by playoff time, we should be back to normal.”
But normal isn’t a good thing for the Sixers. They’re second in the NBA with 15.2 turnovers per game. The Atlanta Hawks are the league leaders at 17.2.
One might expect that from the Hawks (24-45), a young rebuilding teams. But the Sixers boast the Eastern Conference’s third-best record and talk about contending for a conference title. Philly and the Utah Jazz (38-29, fifth) are the only teams with winning records in the top five in turnovers.
For the most part, the Sixers’ turnovers have been similar to the ones they made in the previous five seasons. They keep making the same errant passes over and over while at times playing out of control. Those types of miscues helped them lead the NBA in turnovers in four of the last five seasons. The one season they didn’t finish first in that category was 2015-16, when they were second.
Similar to last season, Embiid and Simmons are the team leaders in turnovers. Both are tied for seventh in the league at 3.6 per game.
On Tuesday, a lot of the Sixers’ miscues resulted from trying to force things and being careless with the ball. They tried to force the ball to Embiid in the post. And at times, Embiid and Redick were turnovers waiting to happen on dribble handoffs.
Coach Brett Brown attributed the botched handoffs to this being Embiid’s second game back after his knee soreness.
“Then there was just some unforced stuff that needs to be fixed,” Brown said. “You know, they were just a little bit too casual. We’ll go back and look at it, those two areas, handoffs, I think we had six turnovers in that part of our offense. And I know there were a handful of unforced turnovers.”
Like Embiid, Redick is not the least bit concerned about struggling on handoffs. He said they’ll figure it out.