18 Games Remaining. The Sixers are in Desperate Need of a Run.
We have arrived to the final stretch of the 2019-2020 NBA season. This year’s Sixers have underperformed, disappointed, and frustrated the fan base to it’s very core. With 18 games remaining – the Sixers will play 11 of them at home. Everyone knows how good the Sixers can be at home. They are currently a league’s best 28-2 at home this season.
That leaves 7 road games left on the schedule. Let’s completely ignore the disaster at Golden State for a second. The 7 road games left are against teams with sub .500 records with the exception of Memphis who is 32-32. It’s time to prove we can beat teams we are supposed to beat on the road – especially since we will not secure home court in the playoffs.
Here’s what needs to happen for the Sixers to finish strong build some confidence heading into the playoffs.
Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III need to be better.
By now you know how I feel about Glenn Robinson III. His head isn’t focused on the team, but rather his upcoming shot at free agency and landing a contract in the offseason. Given that he only received two offers last offseason, I understand his worry – but we need him focused on this season and helping the team win.
Robinson is solid on the defensive end but hasn’t performed up to expectations offensively. Robinson started his Sixers career 0-10 from 3pt range and has remained unclear about his role with the Sixers. The last 3 games, however, it seems like Robinson has made a turn for the better – averaging 15 points and shooting 6-10 from 3pt range in that span.
Burks started off way better in a Sixers uniform, scoring 19 points in his second game as a Sixer. The last four games he has stepped up just like GR3 averaging nearly 14 points per game and shooting around 38% from three.
Both these guys need to continue to trend in the right direction. They are the two most important bench players (sometime starters) that we have on the Sixers heading into the final 18 games.
Embiid, J-Rich, and Simmons Getting Healthy
Joel Embiid shoulder injury turned out to be a shoulder sprain. The 76ers are expecting him to return tomorrow against the Pistons. Embiid has missed a total of 21 games this season and his absence definitely shows in the standings when he’s not playing. The Sixers are 11-10 without the big man and 27-16 with him. A healthy Embiid down the stretch and into the playoffs can help carry this team, even more so without Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson – who’s injury reports still remain unclear.
Considering J-Rich’s injury. He should return soon and hopefully in better form. J-Rich hasn’t really been playing well but I’m confident in saying that’s because he has been thrown around in different roles on this team and hasn’t been able to play to his strengths. J-Rich was brought in to compliment Embiid and Simmons and with the injury bug going around – he hasn’t been able to do so effectively. A return to form for J-Rich will make the final stretch much easier on everyone.
Ben Simmons is still a mystery. We haven’t had many updates regarding his lower back injury besides a few off-handed comments from the Sixers hoping he will return “before the playoffs”. This is concerning. Ben Simmons isn’t one to miss games unless he’s seriously hurt. I hate to say it, but there’s a chance his season is over.
Shake Milton & Matisse Thybulle getting more minutes.
Shake needs to become heavy rotation player during the final stretch and in the playoffs. Shake Milton has been the only positive news from the Sixers since before the All-Star break. Since being named an every-day-starter, Shake has been scoring 19 points a game and shooting a ridiculous 62% from three.
Thybulle has been a different story. It’s been crazy to watch him progress and digress so drastically in a single season. Brett needs to let him play through it. The defensive intensity Thybulle brings to the court is the best on the team without Simmons. I wouldn’t mind if he started shooting more and bringing that aggressive, “run the court” mentality back to the team after it’s vanished in Ben’s absence.
Al Horford remaining consistent.
Without Joel embiid – we have seen the Al Horford we hoped for over the last few games averaging 20 points and 9 rebounds over the last two outings. I get it – he and Joel playing together has been an absolute failure. If Horford can continue to balance out the 2nd line perform at this level, it would be a huge lift to a struggling bench that at times, fails to generate any type of momentum when starters are taking a quick rest.
Nobody should want to play the Sixers in the playoffs.
The season is going to play out as it will. I do believe that the Sixers have a run in them, especially with such an easy schedule. In a 7-game playoff series, I also believe that no one should want to play the Sixers. Given their home record and important guys coming back from injury – no matter the seed, the 76ers will be a tough out.
We have entered the home stretch. Unite, or Die.