Despite having some of the best players in the league on their roster, the Philadelphia 76ers are only sixth in the East – not where they want to be with less than two months until the playoffs. In the midst of the trade deadline, some last-minute moves, locker room drama, and three losses in a row, to be honest, sports experts aren’t even sure the Sixers will make it to the playoffs. Things look off, fans think they’re underachieving, and even the players have confirmed those feelings. So what’s going on with this underperforming Philly team? What trades did they make yesterday? And can they turn things around before it’s too late?
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Sixers Troubles, Drama?
The Sixers’ chemistry needs some work. Charles Barkley called the Sixers the “softest” and “mentally weakest team” with the most talent. Al Horford says there’s “some stuff” going on in the Sixers’ locker room, though he hasn’t given us any more details than that. Joel Embiid says the team is lacking an offensive identity and that they need to learn “to sacrifice” for one another. Embiid also thinks that spacing is an issue, and despite being one of the top athletes in the NBA, he’s still trying to figure out where he fits in with this team. On top of all that, there are concerns that Embiid will forever be an injury risk (in addition to being immature and insubordinate at times).
There’s also a rumor going around that Embiid and Ben Simmons are dealing with some jealousy issues, which is likely the source of that locker room friction mentioned by Horford. Meanwhile, Horford and Tobias Harris have had to assume team leadership roles in this difficult time.
Head coach Brett Brown, however, denies that his players are “tuning him out” despite their negative body language and poor effort lately on the court. Still, Brown’s job might be on the line as a result – some are questioning if it’s actually him dragging down this Sixers team.
In addition to all the talk and rumored drama, Ben Simmons is actually struggling with his jump shot, and Embiid is still figuring out how to reincorporate himself with his teammates after finger surgery. While the team still has a top-five defense, the Sixers’ offense has dropped to a measly 20th in the league. And they’re a sad 9-19 when it comes to road games. Their recent 137-106 loss to the Miami Heat (and former Sixers star Jimmy Butler, who we all thought was the source of Philly’s locker room drama) combined with a 21-point loss to the Celtics and a surprising defeat by the Hawks have morale feeling low.
Whatever is going on in Philly, this team needs to turn it around. And soon.
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Sixers Trades and Challenges
On Thursday, Sixers GM Elton Brand traded three second-round picks for wings Glenn Robinson II and Alec Burks of the Golden State Warriors. The Sixers hope these new additions will bring some depth to the team in the form of big perimeter guys who can shoot and score off the bench. Both Robinson and Burks are 6’6” and shoot 37% from beyond the arc.
Before this move, the team was forced to use Shake Milton and Furkan Korkmaz to take over during periods of rampant injury. The Sixers are also trying to compensate for underperformance by wings like James Ennis and Mike Scott. Speaking of, to make room on the roster for Robinson and Burks, the Sixers had to get rid of two guys of their own. At the trade deadline yesterday, they traded Ennis to the Orlando Magic for a second-round pick and waived reserve point guard Trey Burke.
After three Ls in a row, the Sixers had to face the tough Milwaukee Bucks on the road last night. They did not come into this game looking like the same team that served Giannis and company a heartbreak on Christmas Day. Embiid looked horrible, which left many to question if he’s 100% recovered, and the 112-101 loss just piled onto the Sixers’ road woes.
They’ll try to turn things around at home tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies before taking on the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. The Sixers will stay in Philly next week as they face the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday before taking some time off to regroup before the All-Star Break in Chicago (where you can catch Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, actually).