Philadelphia, we may have a problem. There are six games left in the season for the Sixers, and the team is sputtering to the finish line, highlighted by an ugly 104-92 loss to the Detroit Pistons. James Harden doesn’t look like James Harden, Joel Embiid‘s consistency is being wasted by the horrendous effort by the other players in the lineup, and head coach Doc Rivers looks a bit befuddled by it all.
I get the understanding that it takes time to build chemistry when a major trade happens in the case of James Harden. However, it seems that, maybe, just maybe, this trade hurt the Philadelphia 76ers more than we thought?
Allow me to explain.
The Philadelphia 76ers aren’t looking like a contender.
The primary reason why the Sixers failed last post-season was due to not having a skilled playmaker who didn’t need the system to generate offense. What the Sixers DID have was three point shooting and a legitimate threat that defenses had to pay attention to, aka Seth Curry.
The trade for Harden gave the Sixers the shot creator that was needed, but they paid the price with including Curry in the swap. Georges Niang and Furkan Korkmaz are capable 3-point shooters, but they have been shooting under their career averages of 35.7 percent and 40.1 percent respectively. It’s hard to replace a career 44 percent shooter from three.
With that element partially gone, the Sixers need Harden to make up for it, and they were expecting him to do so exponentially. That hasn’t gone as smoothly as once anticipated.
Defensively, the Sixers still hold a top ten rating in the league. But in the last 12 games, they are giving up 110.2 points a night. That would put them in the lower half of defensive ranked teams with the same Detroit team that beat them, the Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks, and Minnesota Timberwolves. If it’s one thing that Doc Rivers has historically been consistent with, it’s defense. The Sixers are playing way below that standard right now.
Along with the Sixers trending in the wrong direction, now it’s evident that there are chemistry issues. These are not the type of issues to have with a week left in the season before the playoffs start. At this point, the Philadelphia 76ers are an enigma to the rest of the Eastern Conference. Good enough to beat anyone; bad enough to beat themselves.
There isn’t enough time to figure it all out. Doc Rivers and company have to think fast before another prime Joel Embiid season goes in the trash. If that happens, Ben Simmons might not be the only one Philly fans are calling sports radio to petition to get out of Philadelphia.