The Philadelphia 76ers suffered their first loss, of this young season, to the Cleveland Cavaliers, 118-94. This game was just bad all around, and outside of Tobias Harris seemingly starting to find his groove, there weren’t many positives.
Nonetheless, here are five takeaways from tonight’s game:
1. Ben Simmons
Consistency. That’s a word you’ll most likely hear regarding the 24 year old playmaker. One night, Ben Simmons will look every bit of a number one overall pick with an absurd 20+ point 10+ rebound 10+ assist stat line. The next, he’ll end up with 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists.
The worst part about it is as long as the Sixers win, Simmons doesn’t even care what his stat line looks like.
Tonight, however, Simmons made it a priority to dominate the way Philly fans expect him to. In the first half, he had 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists and was on pace for a triple double night. He ended it with 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. CONSISTENCY.
Doc Rivers said he believes assistant coach, Sam Cassell, is one of the best developmental coaches in the league and is in charge of Simmons’ development. He’ll need to do a better job of getting consistent effort from Simmons on a game to game basis.
Through 3 games, Simmons is averaging 15-8-6. Those numbers need to increase, across the board, for this team to take that leap from playoff caliber to championship contending.
2. Slow starts continue
I mentioned yesterday how the Sixers slow starts could be troublesome at some point in the season and today, it certainly was.
Andre Drummond, Darius Garland, and Collin Sexton took turns torturing the Sixers defense in the first half, resulting in a 14 point half time lead. The Cavaliers took advantage off the Sixers lackluster effort on both ends and didn’t look back, on the way to a 24 point victory.
When I said these slow starts could be troublesome, I thought more along the lines of games vs contenders, but this is the NBA, anything can happen on any night and this game proved it.
3. Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers
Through the first two games, the Sixers were averaging only 15 turnovers per game. That number is relatively low for a team whose coaching staff was just put together a few months ago. Tonight, they ended up with 22. Against a team like Cleveland, that should never happen.
Games vs. the bottom tier teams shouldn’t be lost due to lack of focus. If they play a better game? Cool, you take it and move on. But you shouldn’t lose because you came out overconfident and decided you could sleep walk your way through the game.
The Cavaliers had THIRTY FIVE points off of turnovers. The Sixers are going to need to clean that up if they want to compete in the top heavy Eastern Conference.
4. Embiid load management?
“I’m going to be ready every night. I want to play every single game. The main thing is I want to put myself in position to succeed and it starts with my body.”
That’s a quote from Sixers center, Joel Embiid, when asked about this upcoming double header.
However, tonight, Embiid rested due to ‘back soreness.’ Now we are not entirely sure if it was a DNP due to slight discomfort and the staff just wanted to be cautious or if it was load management on the second night of a back to back.
Regardless, the big man did not get his wish to play every game, and the Sixers looked out of sorts without him. Missing his 28 points and 12 rebounds per night numbers is a big loss, but it shouldn’t be vs a team like the Cavaliers.
Dwight Howard and company had a lot of trouble vs Andre Drummond, and history shows that Embiid will miss his fair share of games. They will need to play a lot better moving forward, if that continues.
The Sixers are 2-1. They’ve played the Wizards (borderline playoff team), Knicks (lottery team), and Cavaliers (lottery team). It’s December, there’s not much you can say about it besides “it’s only been three games.”
It is not time to hit the panic button but outside of the second half vs the Knicks, this is not what you expected from the Sixers this season.
Like I’ve said a thousand times, only 7 players returned and there is a whole new coaching staff. It takes time to get comfortable in roles, gel, and build chemistry.
Luckily, the NBA blessed the Sixers with a relatively easy schedule to start, and they should use these games to build on that chemistry.
The Sixers next game will come on Tuesday vs the Toronto Raptors. This will be a good early season test for this Sixers squad, playing a team they have a good chance of meeting in the playoffs.
See you all then. #HereTheyCome