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Sixers-Blazers observations: Defensive woes aren’t going away, and mounting need for a roster addition

The Sixers might want to consider making a trade sooner rather than later.

Sixers guard Ben Simmons (right) drives to the hoop on Portland's Jusuf Nurkic.
Sixers guard Ben Simmons (right) drives to the hoop on Portland's Jusuf Nurkic.Read moreSteve Dykes / AP

PORTLAND, Ore. — The 76ers lost, 129-95, to the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center Sunday night.

Here are my main takeaways and best and worst awards.

Four observations

  1. The Sixers might want to consider making an expected trade sooner rather than later. They lack someone outside of Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons, and JJ Redick who can consistently make an impact against a quality opponent.

  2. As impressive as Landry Shamet has been, the rookie guard struggles on the road against solid Western Conference teams. He finished with four points on 2-for-10 shooting Sunday, missing all five of his three-pointers. He has shot a combined 3-for-16 in road games against the Blazers and the San Antonio Spurs (Dec. 17). Shamet also had a tough time defensively.

  3. The Sixers defense continues to be a welcome sight for opponents. The Sixers were consistently beaten off the dribble and left shooters wide open. Philly was without Embiid, its defensive anchor. However, the NBA all-defensive second-teamer wouldn’t have been able to erase all of the countless defensive miscues.

  4. T.J. McConnell is becoming a victim of bad defensive matchups due to being the Sixers' best option off the bench. He was at a huge disadvantage while chasing three-time all-star Damian Lillard. In the end, his game-worst minus-38 stood out more than his scoring 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting. Yet the Sixers would prefer to put him — rather than Shamet, Furkan Korkmaz, or Redick — on a standout player.

Best and worst awards

Best performance: There’s no way anyone could justify passing up CJ McCollum for this award. The Blazers shooting guard finished with a game-high 35 points in just 27 minutes, 50 seconds. He sat out the fourth quarter.

Worst performance: I couldn’t avoid giving this to Butler. The Sixers swingman finished with five points on 2-for-12 shooting. He missed his first seven shot attempts.

Best defensive performance: This goes to Jusuf Nurkic for having a solid presence. Sixers centers Amir Johnson and Mike Muscala combined to make just 2-of-9 shots through three quarters. Nurkic didn’t play in the fourth.

Worst statistic: I gave this to the Sixers scoring a season-low 41 points in the first half.

Best statistic: This goes to the Blazers shooting a season-best 59 percent from the field.

Worst of the worst: I had to give this to the Sixers' overall performance. On this night, they looked more like the team that finished 10-72 three seasons ago than the squad that has the fourth-best record (23-14) in the Eastern Conference.