Sixers Lead

Sixers’ Dominant Christmas Win Ruined After Recent Skid

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On Christmas Day, the Sixers took full advantage of home court, as they gifted the fans with an entertaining 121-109 win over the Bucks. Playing perhaps their best and most-inspired game of the year, they finished with the most three-pointers made on Christmas Day in NBA history (21).

 

Joel Embiid was practically unstoppable on both the offensive and defensive ends as he racked up a total of 31 points and two blocks. Conversely, reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo had a very disappointing game. He finished with 18 points, many of them coming late when the game was out of reach.

All five starters had at least 11 points, and highly contributed to the win. Furkan Korkmaz led the bench with 16 points and shot 4-for-5 (80%) from three-point range.

This game proved that the Sixers have the potential to be the championship-caliber team that they are believed to be.

So what began to go wrong?

After the fantastic win on Christmas, the Sixers geared up for some fun in the sun, as they traveled to Florida for back-to-back games against the Magic and Heat. There they would visit their old friends, Markelle Fultz and Jimmy Butler, respectively.

The Sixers began their losing streak by falling short with a 98-97 loss to Orlando. Sloppy, listless play was the theme of the game, as Philly basically trailed the Magic for the entire 2nd half. Amazingly, they did mount a late comeback in the final frantic minutes, and even had a chance to win the game at the buzzer. However, Joel Embiid’s shot did not fall, and the Sixers let the first game slip away.

Joel Embiid totaled 24 points and 11 rebounds, and was 4-for-11 from three-point range. Similarly, Tobias Harris also totaled 24 points and 11 rebounds, and was 3-for-8 from deep.

What continued to go wrong?

The next day, the Sixers had to face another old friend– Jimmy Butler.

Joel Embiid had 35 points and 11 rebounds, Ben Simmons had 15 points and 11 assists, and Josh Richardson — in his return to Miami — tallied 17 points and five rebounds. This wasn’t enough, however, as the Sixers had too many stretches of careless play, and failed to execute late in the game. The Sixers fell short by one point again (117-116), this time in OT.

There were a few tactical errors that led to OT:

  1. Brett Brown called a timeout as the Sixers had only seven seconds left on one late-game possession. On the ensuing play, they were unable to manufacture a decent shot.
  2. Tobias Harris missed an open dunk that would have put the Sixers up by 4 with 15 seconds remaining.
  3. Joel Embiid turned the ball over twice, as he was unable to quickly pass to open teammates as he was double- and triple-teamed.
  4. Josh Richardson missed the first of two foul shots that would have tied the game. A heads-up play for Ben Simmons on the 2nd miss saved the game from ending right there.

In OT, there were some great plays between Richardson and Simmons that kept the Sixers in the game. Ultimately, though, the Heat made their big shots down the stretch when the Sixers could not. The losing streak would move to two games.

Could it get even worse?

The Sixers did not seem to be in the mood to celebrate the coming of the new year during their game against the Pacers. Former Sixer T.J. McConnell spoiled the Sixers’ visit to Indiana. Embiid was out with a sore left knee but the Sixers stayed close early. In the 2nd and 3rd quarters, though, they were very flat. The Sixers played poorly on both offense and defense, and the Pacers pulled away. The final score was 115-97, their third loss in a row. That score doesn’t tell the whole story, however, as they were down by as many as 36 at one point.

Josh Richardson led the team with 20 points and five assists. Ben Simmons totaled 18 points and 10 rebounds, but also had six turnovers. No other starter or bench player left his mark on the game with all under 10 points each.

What’s next?

Do the Sixers need Matisse Thybulle to return to the rotation, or do they need to think about pulling the trigger on a strategic trade? Even more dramatic, do they need a new coach?

Follow us on Twitter @SixersLead for the latest 76ers news and insight.

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About Dakota Hurwitz

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