Grading the Sixers

By Bill Gorman, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

The 76ers entered the All-Star break in fifth place in the NBA Eastern Conference at 34-21, 12 ½ games behind Milwaukee for the top spot in the East and six games behind Toronto for the second seed. This is significantly behind what was expected, as many fans and media saw the offseason additions of Josh Richardson and Al Horford, and the retention of Tobias Harris as key elements to move into the NBA’s upper echelon and potentially earn a trip to the NBA Finals.

It’s difficult to pinpoint what has gone wrong and what has gone right. As poorly as things seemingly have gone this season, the 76ers are still on pace to win 50+ games, and have the league’s third-easiest remaining post-All-Star schedule. The sky, it seems, remains unfallen. With all of that said, let’s grade the players in their positional groups to see what improvements can be made.

(note – all statistics from basketball-reference.com unless otherwise specified)

(note 2 – Players no longer with the team were removed, so no grades for Trey Burke, James Ennis III or Jonah Bolden)

Ball Handlers

Ben Simmons 

Grade – A-

The good - A stat line of 19.5/8.9/8.3 over the last 28 games, attempting 2.5 more shots and 2.4 more free throws a night, plus 71% from the foul line over the last 12 games. He has clearly found an aggressiveness that eluded him early in the season. All-Defense level performance on the defensive end, leading the league in steals and being an all-around menace to ball-handlers and potential drivers alike. A second All-Star appearance. Not one, but TWO three-pointers made.

The maybe not-so-good – A stat line of 14.1/6.8/8.4 to start the year combined with 56% from the free throw line. His early season desire to concede shots and usage to Harris, Richardson and Horford may have cost the team a win or two along the way.

Raul Neto 

Grade – C-

The good – 19 points in one half against Golden State. And this was not a garbage-time performance either – this was “Ben Simmons isn’t coming back in for a few minutes because Neto is on fire.” Neto has been a calming presence on the offense, patiently working the team into its sets and providing spacing around the non-shooters.

The maybe not-so-good – Those 19 points accounts for 11% of Neto’s entire point output for this season. He’s committed 35 turnovers against just 64 assists, and while part of that can be chalked up to playing late-game minutes with lesser players, much has been attributable to difficulty adjusting to pressure. He also has not been the defensive pest the team envisioned when they signed him as a nominal TJ McConnell replacement.

Wings

Tobias Harris

Grade – B

The good – A fantastic stretch from mid-November through the new year where he averaged 20.6 points per game and shot nearly 40% from three. He has even made some strides defensively, putting in a ton of work to be able to stand up to bigger wings and traditional power forwards.

The maybe not-so-good – The first 11 games of the year, when he averaged 20% from deep (despite opening 6-11 in the first two games) and putting up just 12.3 points per night. Harris has also struggled to find his place with the ascendance of Simmons, passing up wide-open threes in favor of more contested mid-range two-point attempts.

Josh Richardson

Grade – B-

The good – Richardson has been an outstanding defender, helping Simmons lock down opposing guards and wings to great effect. He has been a competent ball handler, which has allowed Brown to push Neto to the bench and Burke to the street. And he has established a very solid mid-range game, shooting 57.5% from 16 feet out, despite shooting just 33.9% from three.

The maybe not-so-good – He has struggled to stay on the floor thanks to a nagging hamstring injury. He has been below-average from the three-point line (33.9%) and has turned the ball over more than he ever has in his career (13.4% turnover rate).

Mike Scott

Grade – F+

The good – It has been few and far between from Scott this year. He did put up 15 in the 76ers’ lone road win over a +.500 team this season (at Boston in December), so, you know, he’s got that going for him.

The absolutely not good – He has been poor defensively. He is shooting below the league average from 3 (34%) despite his range being the one skill that was supposed to keep him on the floor. Pretty much his entire season has been bad.

Matisse Thybulle

Grade – B

The good – Thybulle has been better than advertised on the defensive end of the floor, sitting at 21st in the league in steals per game despite playing just 20.9 minutes a night. He’s also among the league leaders in deflections and is third among all rookies in blocked shots. He has also been a viable floor spacer, shooting 37.3% from deep on 2.7 attempts a night.

The maybe not-so-good – He has struggled from time to time with foul trouble, which is expected for a rookie who’s aggressive on the defensive end. He has also disappeared on the offensive end for long stretches of games, which means if he’s not making a radical defensive impact…and players are starting to adjust to his defensive skill…he’s not much use on the floor.

Furkan Korkmaz

Grade – B-

The good – Back to back 30-point performances have highlighted Korkmaz’s breakout season, in which he has career highs in minutes (21.3), scoring (9.6) and three-point % (39.2). He has parlayed a solid World Cup performance into a regular role off the bench, attacking 2nd units from deep and showing some decent moves in the lane as well. Also, he HAS improved defensively.

The maybe not-so-good – He has been atrocious on the road (40% from the field, 33% from deep). His defense, which before this year was best described as “the chair in the Darko Milicic workout video” has gone up to “you might be better but we’re still coming after you on every possession.”

Shake Milton

Grade – C

The good – Milton has shown some flashes but is currently lost in the shuffle on the perimeter. Had a good game against the Lakers and was a standout in the loss to Atlanta five days later.

The maybe not-so-good – He has improved on the defensive end (there appears to be a pattern here), but he still has too many lapses in concentration on that end.

Zhaire Smith

Grade – Incomplete

Mariol Shayok

Grade – Incomplete

The glut of perimeter players in Philadelphia has left Shayok and Smith spending most of their time in Delaware this season.

Bigs

Joel Embiid

Grade – B+

The good – When Embiid is on, he is nearly impossible to stop. He has had his share of games where he was entirely unstoppable. For the most part, when he’s on the floor, the 76ers are a top five team in the league, both offensively and defensively.

The maybe not-so-good –Like with Simmons, Richardson and Harris before…he has struggled with decreased attention and trying to figure out just what his role is, which has led to a decrease in field goal and free throw attempts. As much as I hate to ask it because it’s an annoying topic…is Joel Embiid too injury-prone to be the #1 piece on a title team?

Al Horford

Grade – C-

The good – Horford has been a defensive stalwart despite some very difficult matchups. He has maintained a positive attitude throughout a difficult season and accepted his move out of the starting lineup with professionalism.

The maybe not-so-good – The fit alongside Embiid and Simmons has not been great. It’s been hard to watch from time to time. And like every other starter he struggled to find his role as well. Hopefully his move to the bench as more of a backup to Embiid will unlock something in both Horford and the Sixers’ offense

Norvel Pelle

Grade – B

The good – I just tried to shoot a piece of paper into my trash can…Pelle came out of nowhere and blocked it. I didn’t even know he was here. But in all seriousness – he has been a big energy guy who blocks shots coming from the weakside AND against opposing bigs. You will see one or the other in this league, but not often both in the current climate. He parlayed his performance into a conversion of his original two-way contract to a full NBA deal after the trade deadline.

The maybe not-so-good – There has been little to complain about with Pelle – he does what he is good at (blocking shots, tip dunks and alley-oops) and doesn’t do what he is bad at (shooting, ball handling). A backup big who really understands his role and plays to his strengths is hard to find.

Kyle O’Quinn

Grade – C

The good – O’Quinn has been a solid veteran presence in the locker room and a fan favorite when he has had the opportunity to play…

The maybe not-so-good – …the problem is that he has not had many opportunities to play this season, thanks to Horford’s presence as a nominal backup center and Pelle’s emergence as a major defensive talent. There have been rumblings that O’Quinn would like to be released or bought out prior to March 1st so he can explore signing with a contender.


Philly vs. Everybody (Literally)

By Victor Williams, Sports Talk Philly Writer

It’s very seldom that you see teams in the Philly sports market get praise from media outlets. Radio and TV personalities alike continuously use Philadelphia as their punching bag. Whether it be making Carson Wentz out to be an arrogant character or trying to put a wedge in between Ben Simmons & Joel Embiid, there’s always a journalist trying to make something out of nothing. When the stories turn out to be less credible than the writers who create them, we don’t ever hear about it again. Everything on the internet comes and goes and people can spew whatever narrative they want, on a local and national level, and there's no accountability because the internet moves so fast. The success of our Philly sports teams needs to start being put on the same pedestal as their shortcomings.

Continue reading "Philly vs. Everybody (Literally)" »


Breaking Down The Sixers' Remaining Schedule

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The All-Star break has come and gone, bringing us to the final stretch of the season. Playoff seeding is starting to take its final shape, but there is still time to make up lost ground. Here is a breakdown of the Sixers’ remaining 27 games of the regular season. 

Although the Sixers will still have to face some of the NBA juggernauts in this stretch, the final stretch of games will be lighter than the beginning. In these final 27 games, only eight of them will be against a team that is over .500 right now. 

The competition is going to be light as the season winds down for the Sixers. They will only have 10 games against teams that would be in the playoffs if the season were over right now. 

There are still some big games left on the schedule, starting this weekend as the Sixers will take on the Bucks for the third time this season. After Saturday the Sixers will still have to face them one more time towards the end of the regular season. 

Two other top competitors that the Sixers still need to face are both Los Angeles teams. This is going to be a tough task for the Sixers as both teams are going to be looking for revenge after losing to the Sixers earlier this year. On top of that, the Sixers will face the Clippers and Lakers in back to back games. 

After the back-to-back in Staples Center, it will be almost smooth sailing for the Sixers. They have a chance to go on a big run in that stretch as their only real test will be facing the defending champion Toronto Raptors. 

Playing on the road has been a major issue for the Sixers and it is not going to help them in this final stretch. The remaining games are almost 50/50 home and road games. With 14 being played at home and 13 away from the Wells Fargo Center. One positive is it will give this new-look team a chance to see if they can fix their road woes before the postseason begins. 

Although the Sixers are currently sitting in the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference there is time to change that. As of right now they only sit four and a half games out of the third seed, and six games out of the second seed. 

With the remaining games, the Sixers landing a top seed is still on the table. They can’t win the Conference, but there is still a chance to finish just under the Bucks. 

If the team continues to dominate at home and can steal a handful of games on the road they can make up ground fast. The big thing for the team to close out the season should be to not let teams that are not competing for anything at this point beat them and hurt their chances of a higher seed. 

IMG_3860


Embiid and Simmons Shine In All-Star Game

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Last night was one of the best NBA All-Star games in recent memory. There were lots of highlights and fun combinations of players like always. But we also got to see something new as things got very competitive in the fourth quarter with the new format. 

In the end, Team LeBron beat Team Giannis 157-155. This game was great for all fans, but Sixers’ fans got their money’s worth in this game. 

Although they were on opposing teams again for the second straight year, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons both thrived in last night’s game. They were given a lot of time to showcase their game as well as they both logged 29 minutes on the court. 

Joel Embiid made his second straight start in the All-Star last night and did not disappoint. He put up a stellar 22 points and 10 rebounds. He had some nice plays in the game as well, including a big post-fadeaway jumpshot over LeBron James in the fourth quarter. 

He was very big for his team in the fourth quarter as he hit big shots and free throws in the closing moments of the game. It was nice to see Embiid show how dominant he can be against the other NBA elite. 

Ben Simmons also showed out in his second straight All-Star appearance. His skill-set was made for a game like this, and he showed it. Simmons stuffed the stat sheet like he always does, posting 17 points, six rebounds, five assists, one block, and two steals. 

The fast pace and selfless play was a perfect environment for Simmons. He was able to showcase his elite passing abilities and remind the NBA audience that he is a premier athlete as well. 

Being able to thrive on a stage like that should be a boost for the two of them. A nice reminder that they are on the same level as the other top talents in the NBA no matter what the standings say. Hopefully, their play in this game will help them hit the ground running in the final leg of the season. 

IMG_3860


Sixers All-Star Break Retrospective

By Christopher Morris, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

The NBA All-Star break gives every team a chance to hit the reset button and take some much needed time away from the game before they return for the stretch run of the season. This Sixers team seemingly would need a break more than most would. After an up and down first 55 games, the team finds themselves with a 34-21 record, currently sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings. 

This is certainly not the record or place in the standings that the team and fans had envisioned before the year started. From Ben Simmons’ ongoing refusal to shoot to Joel Embiid’s injuries and lethargic play, and Al Horford’s clunky fit in the offense, this season has been far from immaculate. However, with turmoil comes hope and optimism as the Sixers can now turn their attention to the final stretch and preparing themselves for postseason basketball.

Reasons for Optimism

On Tuesday night, the Sixers revealed a new starting lineup with the full complement of roster additions acquired at the trade deadline. It went about as well as it could go. Al Horford was summoned to the sixth man role, his first time coming off the bench all season. Brett Brown inserted the recently surging Furkan Korkmaz into the starting lineup. 

While Korkmaz himself did not have a particularly good game, he provided invaluable spacing for the rest of the Sixers starters, specifically Embiid and Simmons. The Sixers came out firing and never let up en route to an impressive win over a title-contending Clippers team. Most importantly, this was the most complete game Embiid and Simmons have played together all season. 

Embiid got back to being his dominant self in the post, getting to the line at will and racking up 26 points. Simmons also used this extra space to his advantage matching Embiid’s 26 points of his own to go along with 12 rebounds and 10 assists. 

The move to the bench also seemed to benefit Horford, who did not have to play as many minutes at power forward with Embiid and instead got to play center most of the game with Simmons running the show alongside him. Horford immediately looked more comfortable and out of his 28 minutes, only 10 of them came with Embiid. The Sixers will still close games with their patented five man group of Embiid, Simmons, Horford, Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson. 

Getting off to faster starts with more spacing in the starting lineup is a necessary and smart move by Brett Brown. The team should be able to flow better throughout the game offensively while mixing and matching lineups that work best together and involve key bench contributors such as Matisse Thybulle, as well as the recently acquired Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks. 

The closing lineup consisting of the original starting five still can clamp down defensively on teams down the stretch exactly how they did Tuesday night against the Clippers. If the Sixers can find a rhythm playing this way the rest of the regular season, they could certainly be one of the more dangerous teams in the Eastern Conference playoffs with the ability to fulfill those lofty preseason expectations.

Post All-Star Outlook

Although the team currently sits at fifth in the Eastern Conference, there is still plenty of time to gain ground. The Sixers have the fourth easiest remaining schedule in the league with plenty of Eastern Conference bottom feeders remaining on the schedule. 

They have generally been consistent at beating the teams they should this year especially at home. However, the road woes have been apparent all season and not only against good teams but bad ones too. They need to tighten things up away from the Wells Fargo Center and churn out some good road wins down the stretch. 

This is the only way for them to seriously make up some ground on the teams ahead of them in the standings such as the Heat and Celtics. I believe the Sixers have as much talent as anyone in the East and could certainly win multiple playoff series without having home-court advantage. 

Nevertheless, the path to the Finals would look a whole lot easier as the third or fourth seed as opposed to their current fifth seed. By taking care of business in the games they should, coupled with improved road play, the Sixers could very well find themselves in a better playoff position between now and mid-April. Only time will tell, but hopefully, Tuesday night’s win and reshuffled lineup will be the jolt this team needed.

 


First Impressions Of The New-Look Sixers

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Tuesday night we saw the unveiling of a potentially new Sixers lineup structure. After months of trying to make it work, Brett Brown finally decided to move Al Horford to the bench. 

This change looks to have worked out nicely, as the Sixers were able to top the Clippers on national television. Here are my first impressions of this new-look Sixers squad. 

Offense 

Adding a shooter to the starting lineup impacted the offense greatly. Spacing was the biggest issue for the Sixers on offense this year, and there were no spacing issues last night. 

There were possessions on offense last night where the lane was wide open for the Sixers to attack the rim. This opened up the floor for Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons to attack the rim and gave Joel Embiid more than enough room to go to work in the post. 

This new looking Sixers offense looks like it is going to be a tough force to stop. All of the core was able to dominate with the new spacing as four of the five starters scored at least 17 points against the Clippers. 

The offense for the second unit ran just as smoothly. Al Horford was able to play center, where he has looked much better this year, and get more comfortable looks. He was also able to run some pick and roll with newly acquired Alec Burks who made his Sixer debut on Tuesday. 

Defense

Going to a smaller lineup did not affect the defense at all. The Sixers still showed why they are one of the top defensive teams in the NBA. 

Ben Simmons still looked like a clear front-runner for defensive player of the year, and Joel Embiid had some highlights where he looked like his old rim-protecting self. 

The second unit looked strong on the defensive end as well. Having Al Horford to protect the rim for the second unit is a big upgrade. He is a nice compliment to the wing defenders the Sixers have off the bench like Matisse Thybulle and Glenn Robinson III. 

Depth

This is arguably the biggest impression of this new variation of the team. Having this team fully healthy and having both new additions available to play, the Sixers look like one of the deeper teams in the league. 

Brett Brown used this depth to his advantage last night, throwing out multiple different lineups to close out the Clippers. 

The Sixers now have a solid group of players that can be maximized in just about any situation of a game. Whether it’s going big and defensive with Thybulle and Horford, or going with a smaller fast-paced lineup and utilizing wings like Korkmaz and Robinson. 

There is now a solid nine guys that can play every night and provide a solid contribution. This is going to be huge down the stretch as the team will try to give the stars as much rest as possible heading into the playoffs. 

Making a big change like that in a game against a serious title contender was a risky move but it worked out great. It will be interesting to see if coach Brown sticks with this new look and if it can continue to look as good as it did on Tuesday. 


Revamping The Sixers' Starting Lineup

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

One big issue for the Sixers this year has been fit. This team has been struggling to try to take the talent they have and maximize it. 

Recently there have been small rumblings about changing up the starting lineup. More specifically, sliding Al Horford to the bench. This could help with spacing, something that has been hindering the Sixers on offense. 

This is something the Sixers should seriously consider trying. If they do decide to slide Horford to the bench, I think it is clear who should take his place in the starting lineup. 

Furkan Korkmaz has been having a career year this season. His game has improved greatly, and he has turned himself into an everyday rotation player. 

After losing out on JJ Redick in free-agency, Korkmaz has established himself as the three-point specialist of the Sixers. This has earned him a chance at a regular run in the starting lineup. 

The Sixers look like a different team when Korkmaz gets going. He draws a lot of attention from defenses, opening up more room inside for guys like Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to work. 

Korkmaz opening up the floor on offense could do wonders for this team. We have seen that the Al Horford experiment has not worked out as well as we might have hoped. Horford is on pace to shoot the most threes in a season for his career, and his percentage is four points down from his career average. 

Having Korkmaz on the wing instead of Horford adds much-needed shooting to the lineup. On the year he is now shooting 39.1% from deep, giving Simmons and Embiid a reliable shooter on the wing to dish the ball out too. 

Korkmaz has shown he can be effective with the minutes bump. On top of seeing him start in 11 games this season, He is shooting at least 41% from three in games where he plays at least 20 minutes. 

Having Al Horford as a super-sub also makes the Sixers look a lot deeper. He has looked much better playing at the center position, something he would be able to do more being the first guy off the bench. 

Horford could be the anchor for the second unit. He would be able to do a lot more pick and roll with ball-handlers like Shake Milton and newly acquired Alec Burks. Along with helping facilitate the offense when most of the starters are off the floor. 

Brett Brown has tried all season to try and make Al Horford work in the Sixers’ lineup, but it has shown that he looks less effective when sharing the floor with Embiid in large samples. 

Korkmaz could start the game and help with spacing and getting himself going early. While Horford could close the game with the other four starters when the team is looking to lock down on defense. 

The Sixers are in desperate need of a shakeup. With this minor change in the starting lineup and some new faces added to the team, this could help the Sixers find the identity that they have been looking for. 


Sixers Trade Deadline Breakdown

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The trade deadline has now come and passed. No big move was made for the Sixers, but Elton Brand still was able to upgrade the roster. 

Brand struck first late last night. The Sixers sent three second-round picks to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for wing players Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III. For only giving up second-round picks this was a nice move for the Sixers. These guys fill some holes on the bench that this team needed to fill. 

Burks is having a career year with the Warriors this season. He is averaging 16.1 points a night to go along with 3.1 assists, both career-highs. Burks is also a proven three-point shooter, as he shot 37.5% from deep with the Warriors on 4.7 attempts a game. 

Adding Burks to this Sixers bench gives it a much-needed boost. He is a proven scorer for this second unit, and he can create his own shots. On top of that, he can also help facilitate the offense as a primary ball-handler in small samples. This will help when the rotation shrinks for the playoffs.

Glenn Robinson will be making a return to the Sixers this season, as he played 10 games with the team during the 2014-2015 season. Robinson is a nice wing off the bench who will also bring shooting. 

On the year he is averaging 12.9 PPG to go along with just under five rebounds. All this while shooting 40% from three on 3.5 attempts a game. Robinson will also fit in with the defensive brand that this team has built, as he averages just under a steal a game on the year. 

Both players will become unrestricted free agents at the end of this summer. Which will give the Sixers some flexibility moving forward.  

The second move the Sixers made came right at the wire. It was more of a smaller move as the team sent James Ennis to the Orlando Magic in exchange for a second-round pick. Moving Ennis makes sense because with acquiring Burks and Robinson, there is now a limited role on the Sixers for a guy like Ennis. 

All in all, these were solid moves for the Sixers. With the limited assets they had going in they were able to find suitable upgrades without having to pay a lot for them. Getting a second-round pick in return for Ennis softens the blow of having to send three of them to the Warriors. 

The team was also able to hold on to some of its better assets. Young projects Zhaire Smith and Shake Milton will remain on the team. Brand also held onto the OKC first-round pick for this year on the chance that the pick will convey. 

With more shooting and scoring off the bench, the Sixers now look like a deeper team. It will be interesting if some fresh faces will help swing the team out of the current funk that they have found themselves in. 


Last Minute Sixers Trade Rumors

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

We are less than 24 hours from the trade deadline and the Sixers still have yet to make any moves. Elton Brand has been working behind the scenes to get some moves done to upgrade this roster. There have been two new players that the Sixers have become tied to as the deadline closes in.

Denzel Valentine, Chicago Bulls 

The Sixers recently expressed interest in the Bulls’ wing. Although his stats do not look that glamours, he could be a nice addition to the team. 

Currently, on the year Valentine is averaging 5.8 PPG in about 12 minutes of action a night. What makes him an enticing target is he is shooting 35.9% from three and outside shooting is something the Sixers are in desperate need of. 

Valentine would also add another ball-handler off the bench and someone who can create their own shots in small samples. Both things the Sixers are also looking to upgrade at the deadline. With his outside shooting ability and upgrade in talent around him, he could bring a nice return on investment for what is given up to acquire him. 

This could also be more than a rental, as the Sixers could easily retain Valentine in the offseason. He will become a restricted free agent this summer, and his qualifying offer will only be for $4.6 million. That is a price tag the Sixers could easily meet if they were looking to keep him moving forward. 

Markieff Morris, Detroit Pistons 

Reports came out today that the Sixers one of the teams in the mix to potentially acquire the Pistons’ stretch four. This deal could strongly benefit the Sixers. 

Firstly, Morris is averaging 11 PPG to go with just under four rebounds a night and is shooting a stellar 39.3% from deep. The team could be looking to upgrade at the stretch four with Mike Scott going into multiple cold spells shooting the ball this season. 

With a team that has been struggling with spacing and shooting this season, Morris could help. He could be a big that runs with some of the starters and can space the floor for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to attack the paint and have a reliable shooter to dish to on the wing. 

Like Valentine, Morris will also be more than a rental. If the Sixers were to acquire him they would have him for next year as well. With being paid under five million dollars that will help this team as most of the salary cap is tied into the starting lineup. 

The last thing that makes this deal interesting is the team he is on. Detroit seems like they are going to be sellers at the deadline. They will be without Blake Griffin for the rest of the season and are preparing for a possible Drummond departure either tomorrow or in the Summer. Which means that a rebuild could be right around the corner for the Pistons. 

With that being said, the Sixers might be able to pry more from them. When working out a deal for Morris, they could also try and get a wing like Langston Galloway who is on an expiring contract. There is also Derek Rose who still hasn’t been moved and has been tied to the Sixers in recent. 

There is still a pool of players out there the Sixers can acquire with the limited assets they have. It will be interesting to see if Elton Brand can pull a rabbit out of the hat before Thursday’s deadline. 


Is There A Growing Disconnect Within The Sixers?

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

To say the Sixers are going through a rough patch right now would be an understatement. Monday night the Sixers were steamrolled out of the gym by former teammate Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat. These bad string of losses has everyone wondering the same thing, what is going on with the Sixers?

This team just does not have it right now. They have lacked all kinds of effort on the floor and teams are making them pay for it. It started when the team traveled to Atlanta and let the Hawks run all over them, then traveled to Boston where they just looked disinterested and were blown out by a Kemba-less Celtics team. 

There is no one thing right now that you can point to and say that is causing the Sixers woes right now. Whether you want to say it’s the coach, players, roster construction, or style of play. All of those things are variables, but one thing that can easily be changed is effort and it has just not happened.

It looks like there could be cracks growing within the team right now. This video from last night’s game is a clear example of this. In the huddle during a timeout, Brett Brown is trying to rally the team to try and get back in the game. Only the players look like they are not listening, not caring, and some even get up before he is even finished talking. That is not a great sign for a team that is supposed to be in the title hunt this year. 

Things did not get better after the game ended either. When talking to the media after the game it seemed that the blame game might start being played with the Sixers. Ben Simmons came out and said that the team as a whole just played soft. But others were a little more direct. 

Brett Brown discussed his reasoning of why Joel Embiid only attempted one shot in the third quarter, but at the end, he almost takes a slight jab at his All-Star center. Bringing up a lack of offensive rebounding from Embiid. 

Joel Embiid later got his chance to speak on that same situation and almost takes a jab back at the coach. He mostly deflects, saying that it is more on the players than the coaches. But brings up that if you want to get someone the ball that you can. 

Although this is only a small sample after one bad loss, it should still bring caution. If there is a growing disdain between players and coaches this team is going to implode. 

Hopefully with the trade deadline this week the addition of some new faces can help swing things with this team. They are all going to have to come together if they still want to be competing in June.