The Philadelphia 76ers (22-21) were riding high going into Monday night's game in Memphis. They had won three in a row and eight of their last 10 and were facing a Grizzlies (17-29) team 13 games under .500. For the majority of the game, Philadelphia was in the driver's seat, leading by as many as 14, but as the third quarter began to wind down and the fourth quarter started, the sloppiness began.
Overall on the game, the Sixers had an abysmal 24 turnovers, resulting in 39 points for Memphis. That's really the most important stat line of the night there. You cannot expect to win games in the NBA when you are consistently coughing the ball up 20+ times. You can blame Ben Simmons for not being aggressive enough, leading his team in turnovers and finishing with just six points. You can blame Joel Embiid for missing three huge free throws down the stretch. You can blame Brett Brown for his team's lack of discipline in the final 12 minutes.
Whoever you decide to point fingers at though, the turnover conundrum is a team-wide problem. Sure, Brett Brett is responsible for a lot of his team's actions, but at some point, the players need to be held accountable as well. Turnovers are going to happen. It's reality. This is not only a young team, but a young team playing with a ton of pace. The Golden State Warriors are in the bottom three of the NBA in turnovers. The Sixers' starting five combined for 17 of the team's 24 turnovers, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter. Those 10 mistakes led to 20 Grizzlies points and ultimately a deflating loss for the young Sixers.
"Poise. Lack of judgment. Leadership. I thought that we had not much leadership," said Brett Brown on the team's late-game performance. "I thought our poise was poor. I think it’s a game where you look at the mistakes that were made and the opportunities that we blew, those types of words come to mind."
Joel Embiid just had an uncharacteristically poor night night. He looked uncomfortable in double teams, was hesitant with the ball and never really showed the aggression we're used to seeing on a game-by-game basis. The Sixers big man finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds, shooting 5-for-13 from the floor and 5-for-9 from the free-throw line. Neither Embiid or Simmons really seemed like they wanted to take the game over in the fourth, something the two need to do as core pieces for this team moving forward.
“Our stars weren’t stars tonight, and our wings were below average,"said Brett brown. "I think Timmy played well. I think in general the story should be the turnovers. You can’t win any NBA game that matters, and you certainly can’t even consider the playoffs, if this ends up just part of who we are.”
Despite the loss, the Sixers got strong performances from Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Dario Saric. TLC was inserted in the starting lineup for the second straight game and he took advantage of the opportunity, scoring 20 points on 6-for-9 shooting, hitting six of his eight triples - a career-high for the French native. Saric led the Sixers with a game-high 22 points to go along with 10 boards, shooting 7-for-11 from the floor and 3-for-4 from beyond the arc.
All in all, this is a deflating loss, but let's not forget that the Sixers have still won eight of their last 11 games. The team has Tuesday off before hosting the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. They have won four of their last five and defeated the 76ers in Chicago, 117-115, in December.