With Embiid Out, Bench Fails to Boost Sixers

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Atlanta 110, Philadelphia 93 – Box Score

Traveling to Atlanta on the second night of a back-to-back, the schedule gods were already poised to smite the Sixers Saturday night, 3-game winning streak or no. Throw in the fact that Joel Embiid was not scheduled to play even before hyperextending his knee in Friday night’s win over Portland, and the task ahead for Brett Brown’s bunch grew larger still. To prevail against a hot Hawks team, the Sixers would need a total team effort. They did…not receive it.

For the most part, the starters played fine. Ersan Ilyasova jacked up a team-high 15 shots, but more than half of them went in for a team-high 21 points, so you couldn’t be too upset about it. Robert Covington continued resurgence from the outside, hitting 3-6 from downtown for 15 points, adding a team-high 10 rebounds for good measure. TJ McConnell had 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 11 assists, which is exactly the sort of stat line I imagine a computer simulation would generate for him.

Finally, Jahlil Okafor was…pretty good! He scored 12 efficient points and had 3 blocks. Sure, Dwight Howard had more offensive rebounds (5) than Okafor had total rebounds (4), but Jah was by no means the reason the Sixers lost Saturday.

No, that reason was the bench, who absolutely torpedoed the team whenever Brett Brown called over his shoulder for reinforcements. Dario Saric had his second-straight game with only 1 made field goal on double-digit attempts (1-10). He and Gerald Henderson were both -21 on the night despite neither playing 20 minutes. Somebody needs to teach Brett how to say “stop giving the ball to the other team” in French because Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot somehow managed to rack up 5 turnovers in just 21 minutes. Nerlens Noel continues to not look quite right since coming back from elective surgery (or maybe due to the loss of the flat-top?).

Gradually as the game wore on, the Hawks continued to build a bigger and bigger lead. The Sixers would close within 7 halfway through the final quarter, but it was the sort of head fake toward a competitive game we’d come to expect from the team pre-Embiid. Largely, it was an uninspiring effort from a team missing its best player in a bad spot of the schedule. These things happen. Hopefully, Joel is ready to go Tuesday night against the Clippers.

Other Game Notes:

  • Bryan Colangelo gave an in-game interview with Zumoff and Alaa, which included what sounded like a subtweet at his predecessor, saying “you guys have been patient for 3.5 years, I just got here”. He also mentioned it was possible nothing could happen with Noel and Okafor (make something happen, Man of Action), and said it wasn’t out of the question that he could accelerate things, before listing off all the Sixers’ draft assets. Take your foot off the accelerator, Bryan! Colangelo did mention Ben Simmons has his final test on his foot Monday, and if all goes well, they should be able to begin ramping up his conditioning to get him back on the court soon. So good news there!

 


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