November 29, 2022

76ers Drop Home Opener vs Bucks-Fall to 0-2

Philadelphia 76ers' James Harden, right, tries to get past Milwaukee Bucks' Jrue Holiday during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Well, the 76ers season is not off to the best start. After losing the season opener Tuesday to the Celtics, they lose again in their home opener to the Bucks 90-88. While no one should be worried, it should be noted that they started the season against two of the better teams in the Eastern Conference and came out winless. The Sixers had their chances to take leads, and even win the game tonight and they came up small in all of those situations.

Joel Embiid Struggles Again

Embiid was terrible tonight. It’s okay to admit it. He was bad. The Sixers Center finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Embiid however failed to put up any points in the second half of tonight’s game. Embiid seemed to settle for too many jump shots and they were not falling. He shot just 6 for 21 from the field tonight. When he was down in the low post against Brook Lopez he was able to get to his spots and get good quality shots, but he wasn’t able to finish around the rim. Embiid also failed to get to the line tonight as he only attempted 3 free throws. This was mainly because he was settling for more jumpers instead of pounding the rock down low.

Embiid declined to speak to the media postgame. Hopefully, everything with the Sixers center is ok as no one wants to speculate. Embiid did seem off tonight from an attitude standpoint. It just did not seem like he was fully engaged in the game and his play reflected that. Embiid has historically relatively struggled to start seasons, so even after two games, it’s no time to panic.

Is “Houston Harden” Back?

The one bright spot from tonight’s game was Point Guard James Harden. Harden finished the game with 31 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds. Harden was the best player on the floor again tonight for the Sixers. There was a stretch in the fourth quarter where he single-handedly brought the team back to tie up the game. He was able to use the pick-and-roll with Embiid to get his floater game going, while also getting to his spots in the mid-range and knocking down the shots. His gravity on the court also opened up some open shots for guys like Pj Tucker and Tobias Harris. It’s only two games, but if this is James Hardens back, look out NBA.

Doc Rivers

Doc has had an interesting tenure so far here in Philadelphia. It is fair to say that he is not a fan favorite and he gets a lot of blame when the team loses. While that is justified he did do something nice tonight. When the Bucks went to the small ball lineup Rivers countered with a lineup with PJ Tucker at the Center position. This lineup worked well and the team went on a 13-0 run to tie the game. I expect to see this type of lineup at times as Tucker played the small ball Center role some in Houston.

With that being said Rivers deserves some blame for tonight as well. Some of the biggest criticisms in the past have been his management of the bench units. So far this season Matisse Thybulle has yet to register a full minute of action in either game. While he is challenged offensively, he is an extremely talented defensive player and could potentially help out a team who has struggled with defensive rotations so far this season. It will be interesting to see how the Sixers’ Head Coach uses Thybulle as the season goes on.

Another critique of Rivers is the last possession play out of the time out. It essentially turned out to be an iso play for Harden where he ended up chucking up a bad shot leading to the Sixers losing the game. Rivers has been critiqued in the past for his offense and offensive game plans and so far this season, it hasn’t been great.

The 76ers’ next game is against the Spurs Saturday at 6pm in Philadelphia.

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