The 76ers were so close, yet so far from a wire to wire win. Friday night the Sixers lost to the Brooklyn Nets 115-109. The Sixers were up double figures with minutes left to go, and somehow they still lost. This game was like the Atlanta series all over again, and head coach Doc Rivers is to blame for it. With a minute and a half left the Sixers were up four when Danny Green was called for a blocking foul. On the replay this was an obvious charge that should have been challenged by Rivers. Gaining possession there would’ve just about sealed the deal.
Tobias Harris had a stellar first half but in the second half not so much. Harris scored 19 of his 23 in the first half. This again was like the Atlanta series where Harris kept missing layups or short jumpers in key moments. Overall he didn’t play poorly but as a second option he needs to step up when it matters most.
Embiid scored only 19 points last night but in a postgame interview he said his knee was really sore. This would explain why he didn’t drive all the way into the basket as much as he could’ve against Blake Griffin. Embiid did have some good plays but he needs to shoot more efficiently. It is only the second game of the season and he’s probably still a bit rusty.
The one bright side of Friday night’s game was Andre Drummond. Over the last two games he has looked like the best backup center that Joel Embiid has ever had. Not only is he a rebound machine but he made some very nice passes including one that thread the needle to Harris.
It showed a little in the first game, but in this last game it really showed that the Sixers definitely need Ben Simmons. Defensively, the Sixers have still been good, but with Simmons in the lineup they would go from good to great. Offensively, as much as people say he is a liability, they need a playmaker. Ben is the only player on the Sixers roster that can bring the ball up the court with control and make plays. You could argue that Tyrese Maxey or Harris can but the Sixers changed their game plan completely. It is clear that the Sixers have ben trying to move at a faster pace which fits with Maxey’s play-style. While Maxey is averaging over 17 points a game, he hasn’t been efficient. He has speed but he puts up a lot of shots that are rushed. Simmons is a player that can play at a slow or fast speed and they need that balance in the lineup.
The news about Simmons Friday morning could mean that he is back on the team at some point this year. This would benefit the Sixers and no matter how ignorant he has been, he is a very good player.
The Sixers take on the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday night and then the New York Knicks on Tuesday. Hopefully the Sixers can shake off the rust and start playing as well as they can be playing.