‘Dysfunctional’: 76ers wheels falling off
PHILADELPHIA, we have a problem.
The 76ers lost their third straight game on the road on Tuesday, taking their record away from Wells Fargo Arena this season to 9-18.
Of the eight teams currently holding playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, the Sixers hold the worst win percentage away from home, worse than the Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic, who are seventh and eighth respectively.
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Currently sitting sixth in the standings, the Sixers sit only half a game behind the fifth-placed Indiana Pacers but the issues within the team are beginning to bubble to the surface.
Just three days ago Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid were all smiles as they sat in owner Michael Rubin's suite at the Super Bowl in matching hoodies.
The next day came a drubbing at the hands of Eastern Conference rivals the Miami Heat who ran them off the floor.
Now we arrive to today where the wheels look to barely be hanging on as the NBA approaches the Trade Deadline and questions hang over the organisation.
As rumours swirl and players names are floated before the Friady 8am (AEST) deadline passes, the Sixers woes have resurfaced with the playing group airing it out during media commitments.
Currently holding the 20th ranked offensive rating in the league, All-Star big man Joel Embiid said the team has no identity on that end of the floor and raised concerns again with spacing.
"No, we don't (have an identity). Spacing is an issue. Sometimes we play fast, sometimes we play slow, but at the end of the day, when you think about it and as we try to get ready for the playoffs also, the game slows down. It becomes a half-court game and that's where we struggle the most so hopefully we do a better job in the next three games before All-Star," Embiid said.
Embiid only last month delivered a thinly-veiled swipe at Simmons and his reluctance to shoot from anywhere outside of five-feet. On Thursday he spoke about sacrifices the team has to make.
"I have sacrificed a lot trying to make everybody feel comfortable, and that's normal. We all got to sacrifice and if it means taking less shots just to make sure everybody is happy and we keep winning, that's what we got to do," he said.
"I got to spend a lot of time at the three-point line just to make sure there's some spacing. Everybody keeps saying, 'Get in the post!' but if you actually understand basketball, you've got to find that balance."
Al Horford who joined the Sixers this season from the Boston Celtics said the team is dealing with internal issues.
The Sixers were widely tipped to push for the top of the Eastern Conference this season, but they've found themselves a long way off the running as the Milwaukee Bucks sit clear on top.
Now as the Trade Deadline approaches, the Sixers have been thrust back into the limelight with ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins labelling them his biggest storyline on the market.
"Right now when you watch them they look dysfunctional, they look like they don't enjoy playing with one another and they look like they're missing a few pieces," he said on The Jump.
As spacing issues continue to plague the Sixers offensively, the team will look to add shooting to their squad but they'll run into one big issue according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski.
"They've got their own little drama going on. They are looking for bench shooting, so are the Milwaukee Bucks. They're going after some of the same players and the Bucks have more ammunition," Windhorst said on The Jump.
Woj on the Sixers’ chances for acquiring an impact player at the deadline without trading a starter: “They will be outbid pretty much by anybody out there”— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) February 5, 2020
Simmons and Embiid might be two of the best players in the entire league, but question marks have been raised about how well they fit together.
It didn't help when Embiid left the line-up through injury and Simmons showed he's capable of being a leader and player to build around.
As the issues continue, the questions have only grown surrounding the team moving on from one of their superstars with many believing the pair aren't built to take the Sixers to the promised land.
"You cannot pair Ben Simmons, with his deficiencies, with Joel Embiid and be able to call yourself a contender. It has to either be built around Ben Simmons' unique talents or you have to build it around Joel Embiid," Vince Goodwill said on Fox Sports' First Things First.
Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd believes the team has to move on and it should be Embiid to be the one to depart.
As the silly season grips the NBA until Friday morning, the Sixers will need to work out their issues within their own doors.
Or they go the alternate route and hit the market hard and throw caution to the win in an attempt to climb the standings and get back to near the top of the Eastern Conference pile.
We'll find out just how serious they are about working things out when they travel into Milwaukee Friday for a showdown against the league leading Bucks at 11am (AEST).