Sixers: Good, bad, ugly from inexcusable loss to Spurs

Joel Embiid, Sixers Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports
Joel Embiid, Sixers Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports /

The Sixers dropped to 0-3 on Saturday night with what can only be described as a disappointing and inexcusable loss to the visiting San Antonio Spurs, a team many expect to compete for the rights to draft Victor Wembanyama next summer.

Fresh off two difficult losses to Boston and Milwaukee to open the season, everyone (including the Sixers themselves apparently) expected Saturday’s game to be rather uneventful. The Spurs aren’t exactly stocked with elite offensive talent and the Sixers were desperate to right the ship… right? They were… right?

Nope, evidently not. The Sixers were flat once again and the Spurs pounced. Devin Vassell lit up them up for 20 points in the first half and the Sixers never fully recovered. They had every chance to win the game — this was no blowout — but down by six with two minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Sixers came out of the timeout lifeless. Thus, we’re talking about a Spurs win.

Let’s get to the good stuff first.

Good elements of Sixers’ loss to Spurs

  • Joel Embiid’s recovery game 

Joel Embiid played two of the worst games we’ve seen from him in a long time to open the season. He entered this game in need of a bounce-back performance. And he delivered, making quick work of Jakob Poeltl and the Spurs’ scrappy defense. The result was 40 points and 13 rebounds, much more in line with our expectations entering the season.

For the Sixers, any hope of winning the championship starts with Embiid playing like the MVP. He’s still recovering from offseason plantar fasciitis but thankfully it looks like he’s trending in the right direction.

  • Tobias Harris embracing his role 

After his monumental screw-up in the final moments of the Bucks game, Tobias Harris was in need of his own bounce back. He delivered, looking much more comfortable in his role and converting three triples en route to 15 points.

  • Signs of life from the bench

The bench has been pretty disappointing to start the season. I wouldn’t qualify this as a great performance from the second unit, but it was the best performance from that group so far. Georges Niang dropped eight points on 3-of-4 shooting. Danuel House made his presence felt on the defensive end. De’Anthony Melton was mostly ineffective on offense, but he continues to provide whirlwind defensive pressure along the perimeter. Montrezl Harrell has the clear upper-hand on Paul Reed right now, but this is the second straight game where Rivers has foregone the backup centers entirely in favor of James Harden and P.J. Tucker small ball.