CLEVELAND – The 76ers have hit the road woe equivalent of rock bottom.
The already undermanned team lost its franchise player, Joel Embiid, while suffering a 108-94 loss to the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
It was the Sixers’ seventh straight road loss. It was also their 13th setback in their last 15 games away from home. And it dropped the Sixers to 9-21 on the road.
Things are not exactly peachy right now for the Sixers (36-23).
They were already without All-Star point guard Ben Simmons. And Embiid didn’t make it out of the first quarter after suffering a left shoulder sprain.
“That’s why you have a team,” coach Brett Brown said of players’ needing to step up without the standouts. “That’s [why] you try to accumulate talent and depth. We just, with the group that we had, we just really defensively didn’t get it done.”
The Cavaliers (17-41) shot 52.6% from the field -- including 11 of 24 three-pointers for 45.8%.
The Sixers were also doomed by Tobias Harris (11 points, 4-for-13), Al Horford (10 points. 4-for-10), and Josh Richardson (9 points, 4-for-12), who struggled through 12-for-35 shooting.
The trio, along with Simmons and Embiid, received a lot of preseason hype for making up what was supposed to be an outstanding starting lineup. But the three players had a tough time, especially after Embiid went out.
“He had a big impact,” Horford said. “Obviously, we plan on playing through him and leaning on him a lot. Once he was out, I felt like, we didn’t really know what was next.”
Embiid, a three-time All-Star, suffered the left shoulder sprain while being fouled by Cavaliers center Ante Zizic late in the first quarter. Embiid did not return to the game.
His left arm was in a sling following the game. The 25-year-old said he would learn more Thursday following an MRI.
The Cameroonian declined further comment.
Embiid bumped his shoulder while being fouled by Zizic with 49.2 seconds left in the quarter. He went to the foul line and missed both free throws. He appeared to be in pain while running back on defense. The Sixers committed an intentional foul to get him out of the game.
The center walked straight to the locker room to be examined. He returned to the bench with a little over nine minutes left in the second quarter, but he was summoned back to the locker room moments later.
Embiid had three points and one turnover in 7 minutes, 37 seconds before leaving the game. He went 1-for-4 from the foul line.
His status for Thursday night at home against the New York Knicks was uncertain -- at least not publicly. One would assume he will miss the game.
Embiid will have trouble lifting his arm for a while. Players are typically out from seven to 10 days to three to four weeks, depending on the grade of the sprain.
Simmons has a pinched nerve in his lower back. He will be evaluated in two weeks and will remain sidelined for an extended period.
The Sixers have 23 regular-season games remaining. Brown was asked before the loss if he was hopeful that Simmons will return in the regular season.
“I’m going to stay away from all that stuff,” Brown said of giving a timeline. “I feel like the club will, as you know I would say, will lead the charge with what it looks like in relation to duration of absence.”
On Wednesday, the Sixers were also without reserve center Norvel Pelle. He missed his second consecutive game with an upper respiratory illness. The hope is that he’ll return against the Knicks.
“I see it as a team effort,” Horford said of having to play without Embiid and Simmons. “I feel like it’s an opportunity for guys that have not been playing as much to step up.
"All of us have to step up. We need to be better and figure out how we are going to play since obviously two huge losses for our group.”
The Sixers and their coach can’t get a break.
Philly was expected to contend for an NBA title. But the Sixers have underachieved and dealt with injuries all season. On Wednesday, they were without their two franchise players.
But battling through injuries has been the norm for Brown even when the Sixers tanked his first three seasons, 2013-14, 2014-15, and 2015-16.
“You just go about it,” Brown said. "You get going. You really do. It’s a program that we sort of came into at its ground-zero level. We blew it up.
“You know you been here for seven years. You get attached to the program. You get connected to the program.”
Shake Milton paced the Sixers with 20 points. Cleveland guard Collin Sexton had a game-high 28 points. The Cavs led wire-to-wire.