The 76ers began last week sitting at 2-1, but are now 3-3 after a pair of road losses to the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Buck followed by a home win over the Charlotte Hornets. The 76ers continue to settle into their season, and they will play five games in the next seven days. Let’s run through this week’s quick hitters:
Through two weeks, the 76ers have come up empty on the road. It is no secret that 76ers play better at home, but Philly is going to have to figure out how to close games away from Philadelphia. The 76ers are currently winless on the road and undefeated at the Wells Fargo Center. The 76ers won only 22 games on the road last season, compared to 30 home wins. Luckily, the 76ers will play three home games this week against the Atlanta Hawks(Oct. 29), Los Angeles Clippers (Nov. 1) and Detroit Pistons (Nov. 3).
The ups-and-downs at the wing position:
Dario Saric is off to a slow start this season, particularly in the shooting department. Most notably, Saric missed a wide-open, potentially game-winning shot in Detroit. Saric through five games is shooting an abysmal 37% field goal percentage, and an even worse, 25% from beyond the arc.
Saric has yet to find his rhythm to kick off his 2018-19 campaign and will need to find it soon if he plans on helping the 76ers get back in the win column following two straight losses on the road. Saric was seen getting shots up an hour after practice had ended this week, and it showed in their final game of the week against Charlotte, where he finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Robert Covington has also been inconsistent to start the season (shocking I know). RoCo however unlike Saric, has been shooting the three ball well, hovering around 40%.
Both Saric and Covington are averaging over 30 minutes per game and will need to find ways to consistently contribute on the offensive end if the Sixers want to establish some momentum.
Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and JJ Redick have been BALLING:
Ben Simmons has two triple-doubles… in just three full games played. Simmons left halfway through their game against the Magic with back tightness and missed the game against Detroit. Simmons came back into the lineup in the second leg of their back-to-back on the road and picked up right where he left off. Simmons finished with 14 points, 11 assists, and 13 rebounds in a loss against the Bucks.
Joel Embiid is averaging just under 30 points and over 10 rebounds per game. The Sixers big man vowed in the offseason to play more “bully ball” in the post, and Embiid has kept that promise. However, Embiid believes his three-point shot could make him “unguardable,” and that part of his game has been struggling, shooting just 25% from beyond the arc.
JJ Redick while coming off the bench has provided crucial secondary scoring and has come up clutch late in games. The 13-year pro is averaging 21 points as a reserve and has connected on over 42% of his three-point attempts. Redick, while not in the starting lineup, is still averaging over 30 minutes per game, and has embraced his role off the bench.
Markelle Fultz watch:
Fultz has now played in all six games this season, starting each one. However, the use of Fultz over the span of this year and beyond is still unclear.
While Fultz has been consistently in the starting lineup, the 20-year-old is also consistently riding the bench in the second half.
Fultz saw his first meaningful fourth-quarter minutes against the Hornets on Saturday night. 76ers fans alike are trying to decipher if Brett Brown is going to ride with the growing pains of Fultz this season or opt to rely on guys like Redick, Shamet and Wilson Chandler upon his return from injury. That answer, for now, seems to be the latter.
Through six games, Fultz is averaging 25 minutes a night, along with eight points. Fultz has shot 40% from the floor so far this season, and 50% from beyond the arc, albeit on a low number of three-point attempts. The second-year pro has also averaged over three rebounds and assists per game.
Fultz’s most recent performance was perhaps the most encouraging this season. While he was spectacular statistically, I noticed a little more enthusiasm from Fultz, which goes a long way when battling growing pains in the NBA.
Next Week’s Preview:
The Sixers will play three home games next week against the Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, and Detroit Pistons. Philadelphia will play two road games, against the Toronto Raptors, and Brooklyn Nets.
Game of the week: vs. Detroit Pistons (Nov. 3)
This will be the second meeting between these two teams already this season, and the first matchup was a thriller. While the Sixers did a lot against Detroit in their previous matchup, they failed to contain Blake Griffin, who dropped 50 and the game-winner. With Philly getting to play at home against the Pistons this week, I expect the 76ers to respond and have a better gameplan to stop Blake Griffin.
For all things 76ers, make sure to keep up with Basketball Society on social media. Talk to me personally on Twitter @PhillySportsMax, and I will see y’all next week.