Before Friday’s game with the Orlando Magic 76ers coach Brett Brown talked about the challenge of playing without injured Ben Simmons
“I do genuinely believe this can galvanize our group,” Brown said.
That is now the key question. Can the Sixers pull together while Simmons is out indefinitely with a temporary partial dislocation of the left kneecap?
On this night the Sixers were able to win, 108-101, without their two-time All-Star.
Here is a look at the game.
What this means: This is a recording, but after four games in the NBA restart, the Sixers have plenty of work to do.
Embiid fatigued? In the first half, TNT analyst Stan Van Gundy noted that Embiid looked tired. By halftime, the studio analysts, led by Charles Barkley, were also critical of him. During his first three games in the NBA restart, Embiid was unstoppable, averaging 32.6 points and 13.6 rebounds.
In the first half, he shot just 3 of 8 and a telling stat was that he only had one free throw attempt.
Embiid must have heard what the analysts were saying because he came out much more determined in the second half, intent on setting up in the post. He was consistently posting up and drawing fouls and the Sixers fed off his energy.
Sixers spacing. This season it has been no secret that Embiid and Al Horford have had spacing problems. Both haven’t been able to operate down the blocks together. Against Orlando, it looked as if the two were exchanging going high-low. This play is a perfect example.
Embiid from the high post delivered to Josh Richardson, who fed Horford on a post-up. Horford looked like his All-Star days from Atlanta, spinning by Gary Clark for the dunk.
Alec Burks at the point. Alec Burks isn’t a classic point guard, but he is quick bringing the ball up the court and he can create his shot, which is his best trait. Burks gave a major offensive spark and with Simmons out, he should get plenty of minutes at the point.
This was a classic Burks, four-point play.
Solid Markelle. No doubt former Sixer Markelle Fultz has enjoyed a resurgence in Orlando coming off the bench. He still hasn’t proven he can make outside shots consistently and teams rightfully play off him, daring him to shoot.
It didn’t matter on this play. The Sixers knew he was going to the basket, but couldn’t stop him.
Notice the hesitation that enabled Fultz to get to the basket. After Josh Richardson was picked off the play, Horford looked like he was in good position, but couldn’t alter the shot.
Fultz did make some outside shots against the Sixers, and if he ever gets consistent, he will truly become a dangerous offensive player.
Defensive play of the game. Furkan Korkmaz will not earn many rave reviews for his defense, but on this play he didn’t give up and blocked a dunk attempt by Terrence Ross. All one can say about this play “WOW!”
Tough matchup: Shake Milton continued to have trouble staying with Magic point guard D.J. Augustin, who too often blew by him to the basket.