The Philadelphia 76ers got dog walked last night by the Brooklyn Nets in one of the most hyped-up, early-March games in recent memory
So, about last night. March 10th was a date circled on every Philadelphia 76ers fan’s calendar. Ben Simmons was making his return to the Wells Fargo Center in what was his first public appearance in Philadelphia since the Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks last season.
Of course, Simmons’ return to Philly sent the city into chaos, which started on March 9th with photos of Ben dining at the Four Seasons. It continued throughout yesterday morning, with fans lined up outside of the Nets’ hotel to share a few words with the player formally known as The Fresh Prince.
Unfortunately, the anticipation for the game last night proved to warrant more energy than the game itself. The Sixers came out flat, slow, and lazy and before we knew it, Philadelphia was operating with a double-digit deficit basically the entire game.
Brooklyn’s lead grew to a miserable 36 points, and the boos raining down on Simmons quickly shifted to the 76ers, who were getting blown off their home floor in what felt like the most important regular season game of the season.
After two days off, in their home arena, the 76ers took the court and looked scared shitless to a point where they allowed a weaker team that they have a history of bad blood with dog walk them up and down the court.
Tyrese Maxey was non-existent and Doc Rivers slumped into his natural playoff fetal position, struggling to put together a competent NBA offense. The entire night was downright embarrassing.
There was a laundry list of things that went wrong last night, but most notably was the abysmal shooting effort from the Sixers. In the first half, Philadelphia shot just 25% from the field, and finished the game at a weary 32%.
The turnovers were next, coughing up the ball 18 times, allowing the Nets to notch 13 steals, and even worse, letting Seth Curry look like a dominant defensive player.
In a high pressure game, the 76ers offense folded like a deck of cards.
Like clockwork, anytime things start to go south for the 76ers offense, they immediately revert to wasting 16 seconds on the shot clock while trying to get an entry pass into the post for Joel Embiid. Embiid then has to battle two or more players to get a shot off before the clock expires.
Last night Harden decided to put up one of his worst games in recent memory.
Sure, players have off nights shooting the basketball but Harden was downright bad last night. I get that. A player of Harden’s caliber needs to realize that when his shot isn’t falling, he needs to make it a point to balance his game in other areas on the court.
Harden didn’t impact the game at all, and finished the night 3-for-17 from the floor, adding just five assists and six rebounds while graveling for foul calls, turning the ball over, and failing to command the 76ers offense like he’s done in every other game since joining the Sixers.
Brooklyn’s Hot Shooting
To give credit where credit is due, the Nets were ridiculous from the field last night. While it was tarnished later in the game, Brooklyn was shooting nearly 70% from the floor through three quarters, and the combination of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were literally unstoppable.
An unexpected culprit, and a familiar face in Seth Curry was a major part of the Nets victory. He added 24 points on 10/14 shooting, and it appeared that he took this game personally. Those three combined for 71 points, and they were really the driving force behind the way this game played out.
Philadelphia’s Bright Spots
There weren’t many, and it took a lot to even give the Sixers any type of credit after that game, but it feels important to note that Tobias Harris came out to play offensively. He scored 16 points, and was the only player outside of Joel Embiid that looked like they cared about playing basketball last night.
A encouraging sign was Harris’ willingness to shoot from the outside, drilling 4/5 shots from deep. Unfortunately he was being cooked on the other side of the ball, but to look at the positive is that he seemed very comfortable offensively last night.
Of course, there has to be some love for Embiid, leading the team in scoring and rebounds as usual, but he was the only one that brought any energy. He finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds, and was really the only form of life throughout the entire game. Embiid essentially brought the 76ers back at the end of the first quarter and led them as close as they would be to the Nets for the rest of the game.
While the entire league had their eyes on the city of Philadelphia last night, the Sixers responded with one of their worst showings of the season. In return, some how, some way, Ben Simmons who didn’t even play last night was vindicated. That my friends, is just downright embarrassing.
In a gutless effort, the 76ers expected an easy win against the eighth place Brooklyn Nets and in return, got punched in the mouth and looked lost out on the court trying to find a way to respond.
It would have been one thing to lose this game, but for the whole country to see this team get bitched on primetime television doesn’t sit right with me.
It was reminiscent of the Hawks series, and something I thought that this team had progressed passed but I was proved wrong and disappointed yet again.
That being said, it was a regular season game in March, so it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Brooklyn is still in a play-in position, and Philadelphia remains at the top of the Eastern Conference.
There is still plenty of time for them to figure it out and while this seems like a moral victory for Brooklyn, they still have to do a lot of actual winning before there is any concern over them come playoff time.
Luckily, the 76ers get a good chance to bounce back after this monstrosity as the travel to Orlando to take on the 17-50 Magic. Let’s chalk the Nets game up as a learning experience and move on.
Mandatory Credit: Getty Images