The 76ers began the week at 17-8, and played two games on national television, away from Philadelphia this week. The 76ers lost their second meeting with Toronto and won their matchup in Detroit to bring their record to 18-9. Let’s run through some quick hits:
76ers Come Up Short in Toronto
In a much-anticipated matchup between two of the top teams in the eastern conference, the 76ers fell flat once again. The Toronto Raptors controlled the majority of the second half after Philadelphia ended the first quarter with a 29-23 lead. The 76ers had to start hot if they wanted to win a tough game on the road, they accomplished that. Disappointingly, this was not enough to change the end result.
Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid both had bad games, in what has become a scary trend. The two young stars combined for eight turnovers and a combined plus-minus rating of negative 22.
This marks the second straight horrible game from Simmons against Toronto. It presents a very real concern, as the 76ers are bound to play either Boston or Toronto in the postseason, both teams that routinely shutdown Simmons. Simmons often looks rushed against these teams who a good job preparing for his skill set. Due to his inability to shoot mid-range jumpers, the Raptors stop him from getting a clear path to the basket. This causes Simmons to dribble too much, which results in turnovers.
It is concerning to see the same result twice, without a reason to believe it will change in the near future.
Joel Embiid finished the contest with 10 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists. Embiid shot an abysmal 5-17 from the floor, and only attempted two free throws, missing them both. It was undoubtedly the worst night of the 2018 season thus far for Embiid.
Jimmy Butler Stepping Up
Jimmy Butler was the lone bright spot for the 76ers in Toronto on Wednesday night. Butler then followed that performance with another big night in Detroit, in a bounce-back win.
Butler dropped 38 points in each contest, providing some major scoring. While the newest 76er star had been hitting game-winning shots, the team was hoping for Butler to step up more in the scoring column, and shoot more.
Jimmy Buckets delivered on that request this week, in a big way. Butler in both games this week, took 27 shots, the most he has taken since joining the team. It was exactly what the 76ers were looking for, and it kept Philadelphia in the game until the very end against the Raptors.
After dropping the game in Toronto, the 76ers needed to get back in the win column against the Detroit Pistons. With Embiid getting a well-deserved rest night, the 76ers needed Butler now more than usual.
Butler supplied exactly what the 76ers needed, scoring 38 points, and recording six assists and six rebounds. It was refreshing to see the 76ers be able to lean so heavily on a star player and have them deliver.
A Look Ahead
The 76ers will play four games next week, including a three-game homestand and a trip to Cleveland to avenge their first home-court loss of the 2018-2019 season. Here is the slate of games for next week;
Monday, Dec. 10: vs Detroit Pistons
Wednesday, Dec. 12: vs Brooklyn Nets
Friday, Dec. 14: vs Indiana Pacers
Sunday, Dec. 16: @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Coming off a tough loss to Toronto, a team that Philly could end up playing in the postseason, the 76ers will look to bounce back with three straight home games to begin next week. It will conclude a back to back with Detroit, and Philadelphia will host Brooklyn for the time this season.
Game of the Week: vs Indiana Pacers (Dec. 14)
As of now, the 76ers look a clear step below both Boston and Toronto. Perhaps they are more on par with the Indiana Pacers, who will visit the Wells Fargo Center Friday night next week. The Pacers sit currently in fourth place in the eastern conference, with a 16-10 record, and have won their last three games.
Indiana is led by the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Victor Oladipo. The 26-year-old star point guard is averaging over 21 points per contest this season, four more than his career average.
With the 76ers sitting only one spot above the Pacers in the eastern conference standings, this will be a big game for both teams. Philadelphia will look to keep Indiana at bay, while the Pacers will try to gain ground on those leading the race in the east right now.
With the Boston Celtics lurking just behind both Philadelphia and Indiana, both teams will be fighting to keep Boston behind them. It is another nationally televised game for the 76ers, and you can tune in Friday at 7:30 pm EST. on ESPN.