The Philadelphia 76ers began the week at 18-9 and played four games. Philadelphia won two of the four, and are now sitting at 20-11. They are currently fourth in the Eastern Conference. Let’s run through some quick hits:
Jimmy Butler Injury
Jimmy Butler suffered a groin injury in last week’s game against the Detroit Pistons. The injury would sideline Butler for two games, and Philadelphia would lose both of those games.
During that stretch, the 76ers dropped two consecutive home games for the first time this season. With Butler on the sideline watching, Philadelphia had no answer for Spencer Dinwiddie, as the Nets point guard dropped 39 points on the 76ers to avenge Jimmy Butler’s game-winning triple in their last contest.
Thaddeus Young posted a season-high 26 points on the 76ers, as his Pacers rolled by the 76ers with ease.
Something both of these games had in common, was particularly bad third quarters from the 76ers. In both games, the 76ers were outscored by a combined 22 points in the third quarter and left them chasing the game both nights.
Butler returned at the end of the week and played in Sunday’s win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He recorded 19 points, two rebounds, and two steals in a 23-point win, 128-105.
The 76ers bench is a serious point of concern. Their depth at the wing position is especially problematic, and it was apparent in their game against the Pacers last week. While Philly was without Butler, the 76ers were easily beaten by Indiana, and it’s beginning to seem like Philadelphia is more on pace with teams like the Pacers than teams like Boston or Toronto.
Philadelphia is currently relying heavily on Landry Shamet and Furkan Korkmaz to fill the void left by Robert Covington and Dario Saric. Despite Butler being out, Joel Embiid provided plenty of star power for Philadelphia. JoJo finished with 40 points and 21 rebounds in a 12-point loss to Indiana.
The depth of the 76ers let them down. Shamet, who played 24 minutes against Indiana, only recorded seven points. Mike Muscala made one field goal in 17 minutes off the bench. Wilson Chandler, who has been starting at power forward for Philadelphia, had zero points in 30 minutes played. That is unacceptable. The 76ers have had to rely heavily on both Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler offensively. Their lack of depth will continue to hurt them down the stretch of games, until Embiid and Butler get some help.
A concerning trend is beginning to appear in 76ers games, as it gets late in the game. In games like the one against the Pacers, Joel Embiid does so much for the team in the first half, that he is reasonably gassed down the stretch. The 76ers need to find more depth at the wing to alleviate some of this pressure when suffering a scoring drought.
A Look Ahead
The 76ers will play three games this week. They head south to San Antonio on Monday night to play the Spurs, then return to Philadelphia to host the Knicks and Raptors. Here is the slate of games for next week:
Monday, Dec. 17: @ San Antonio Spurs
Wednesday, Dec. 19: vs New York Knicks
Saturday, Dec. 22: vs Toronto Raptors
Game of The Week: vs Toronto Raptors (Dec. 22)
The 76ers have traveled to Toronto twice already this season and will host the Raptors in Philadelphia for the first time this year. The last two games against the Raptors were ugly, and the 76ers will look to change that narrative, hoping to use the home crowd to help accomplish that.
It will be another huge test for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to play well against a top team. The last meeting with the Raptors did not go well for the young stars, combining for eight turnovers and a combined plus/minus rating of -22.
Simmons, who has rebounded since then, finished Sunday’s game against the Cavaliers with 14 assists and no turnovers, while recording the 15th triple-double of his career. The young point guard will hope to have his first great game against Toronto, on Saturday night, at 7:30 pm EST on NBA TV.