Joel Embiid

Following James Harden’s foot injury, the Philadelphia 76ers lost to the Atlanta Hawks 104-95 in their second game. The Hawks completely controlled this game, despite the Sixers’ bench going on an incredible 18-4 fourth-quarter run that made the final score look better.

Every player other than Joel Embiid who had a negative impact on the Sixers is displayed in the +/- column. He finished the game at +10 and had a +/- that was nearly as large as Philly’s deficit at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The only other guy that played double-digit minutes and was in the black? P.J. Tucker, who was +1 and made one of two shots. All of the others had at least a -5.

Embiid finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds on 9-18 field goal shooting. He overpowered the Hawks’ defence despite his seven turnovers (compared to just two assists). Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris collectively shot 10-32. The Sixers were unable to seize the lead in the game at any point during the remaining three quarters, despite Atlanta shooting 6-26 from beyond the arc.

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Without Embiid, the Sixers also struggled defensively. Whether Paul Reed or P.J. Tucker was the centre during Embiid’s absence, Clint Capela controlled the paint with 18 points and 18 rebounds in the first three quarters. Embiid was the only player to make an effect in non-garbage-time minutes during Philly’s most recent loss, despite the +/- stat’s frequently deceiving and ambiguous nature.

Joel Embiid

In spite of Harden’s absence, the Sixers just defeated the Phoenix Suns, and a big reason for that was Georges Niang, who came off the bench to score 21 points and make four triples in the fourth quarter.

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Chris Paul sitting out the entire second half of that game also helped them. If Philly wants to succeed while Harden is recovering, they must demonstrate that their offence can produce quality looks and endure both the length of the game and the absence of its star players.

Without Harden, the Sixers have the talent to compete, but they haven’t developed the strategies to do it. The club is at a turning point, according to Doc Rivers, but Thursday night’s defeat did not support that.

 

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