INDIANAPOLIS – Josh Richardson didn’t hold back when asked what’s wrong with 76ers.
Tuesday’s 115-97 setback to the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse marked their third consecutive loss since beating the NBA’s top-ranked Milwaukee Bucks on Christmas Day.
“I don’t think there there’s enough accountability in our locker room right now, honestly,” he said. “I think that we got some new guys, who don’t want to step on toes, including myself. I feel like we kind of go play and don’t compete as much.”
Richardson wasn’t done with his assessment.
“There’s been games that we have [competed], and it’s been great,” he said. “But when it’s not going good, we got to hold each other accountable. I think that’s where a lot of our problems start.”
It’s no secret that last year’s Sixers were a talented team that had a bad culture. The belief was that some bad habits would be erased with the addition of Richardson and Al Horford, great locker room guys. They also re-signed Tobias Harris, who they initially acquired at February’s trade deadline from the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Sixers sent Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat in a sign-and-trade and acquired Richardson in the deal. Meanwhile, they signed Horford to a free-agent deal. The 13-year veteran spent the last three seasons with the Boston Celtics.
In all, the Sixers have eight new players on their 17-man roster. That doesn’t include Harris, Mike Scott, and James Ennis III, who all re-signed after being acquired in February trades.
Yet, as Richardson stated, the same lack of accountability exists as it did in past Sixers’ seasons.
In the past, sources have said several key players lacked the work ethic and accountability to become championship players.
Harris and point guard Ben Simmons also talked about the need for accountability following Tuesday’s loss, which dropped the Sixers to 23-13 and sixth place in the Eastern Conference. All-Star center Joel Embiid sat out the game with a sore left knee. After the game, a small group of players talked among themselves about the lack of accountability.
“Going forward, we got to talk to some people about it, and we got to do it,” Richardson said. “We talk about playing hard every day. We talk about, you know we break the huddle down with chip every day, and we got a long way to go before we actually start competing for that.
“I think our locker room has some growing to do.”
It’s been obvious that the Sixers don’t always play hard. That led to Friday’s road loss to the Orlando Magic and other road setbacks to the Washington Wizards and Brooklyn Nets.
“In all honesty, I think what we have to do is look one another in the eye and look ourselves in the mirror, and kind of evaluate it and take ownership on our own individual play,” Harris said. “Then figure out what individually we can do better one on one as man, and come to the table and try to mesh that together."
Harris added that it’s easy to say the Sixers didn’t play good defense or failed to get out in transition.
“But it’s hard to say, 'Oh, I didn’t bring enough energy for the group tonight,” he said.
Harris thinks he needs to do a better job of picking the Sixers up and figuring out how they can get out of a deep run, like the Pacers had. Indiana broke the game open with a 17-2 run at the start of the second quarter.
“I look at a game like today and a loss like today, it’s easy to say we need to switch it up [schematically]," he said. “Switch it up to what? What we did three games ago when we beat the Bucks? You know what I’m saying?
“This is the league. It’s one game after another. Obviously, we need to build consistency. That’s a big thing," Harris said. "But, I think, as an individual, one-on-one, man-to-man, we got to look ourselves in the eye and come to the table on what individually we can do better as collective group.”
Simmons said the team needs to come together, sit down as a group, and chat.
“There’s nights like this that we don’t even look like we should be here,” Simmons said. “We got to take ownership of that. Look in the mirror and say what we want out of this team.”
The point guard noted that the Sixers look like a championship team at times and have all the pieces, with great off-the-court chemistry.
“But on the Xs- and Os-side of things, we need to be on the same page,” he said.
After the Sixers’ road loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday, Simmons said that team plays with a lot of energy in spurts. Embiid disagreed.