The Philadelphia 76ers were already down one all star heading into Sunday evenings game against the Portland Trailblazers and they lost their other all-star, Joel Embiid in the first quarter. After Embiid went out with an ankle injury the Sixers fought and showed tons of heart but it was not enough as they loss 124-121 in heartbreaking fashion.
For the Sixers, Josh Richardson made his presence felt, scoring 34 points with 6 three pointers. In the absence of both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid it was nice to see Richardson step up and contribute, a change from what has been a mostly quiet return to play for Richardson. Al Horford and Alec Burks stepped up as well for the Sixers and hit some big shots. Burks was huge for the Sixers, hitting jumper after jumper, scoring 20 points on 8-14 shooting. Al Horford finished with 15 points with 3-4 shooting from 3. The three players combined for 69 points.
In what was a big game for Richardson, Horford and Burks, it was a pretty quiet game from the $188 million man, Tobias Harris. Harris finished with 16 points and 7 rebounds. A little more from Harris may have been able to prevail the Sixers to a victory. With Ben Simmons out and Joel Embiid leaving with injury, Harris has to provide more production on the offensive end.
For what feels like the thousandth time, the Sixers were torched in the pick and roll. This time it was Damian Lillard, who finished with 51 points on 16-28 shooting. Lillard, like TJ Warren who torched the Sixers for 53 points earlier in the bubble games, primarily operated with the pick and roll as well to get his points. Yet again, the Sixers were basically beaten by one player. Lillard is one of the top scorers in the league who can literally take over games at times. Knowing this, it would make sense to attempt to trap Lillard off screens or at least double him on the perimeter, however the Sixers did not until it was too late. This was the place to make an adjustment in order to help your team win a game, alas, the Sixers did not.
In all, the Sixers fought. The players played their hearts out. But in the end, it wasn’t enough. The shorthanded Sixers definitely gave the Blazers a fight, but without both of their all stars, couldn’t get the job done. There should be more information on Joel Embiid and his injury in the coming days. Embiid did return to the bench and was seen smiling on camera, so there’s some optimism there. The 76ers return to play on Tuesday against (another potent scorer) Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns.