Instant Observations: 76ers Fall to Warriors, Concerns About Embiid’s Health Loom Large

Instant Observations: 76ers Fall to Warriors, Concerns About Embiid’s Health Loom Large Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers (29-17) were defeated 119-107 by the Golden State Warriors (20-24) on Tuesday night at Chase Center. However, the overwhelming concern for the Sixers is the status of Joel Embiid, who left the game early after re-injuring his left knee.

Tobias Harris led the Sixers with 26 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals. Furkan Korkmaz added in 19 points off the bench. The Sixers were also without Tyrese Maxey (left ankle sprain), De’Anthony Melton (lumbar spine stress response), Nic Batum (left hamstring tightness), Marcus Morris Sr. (left foot plantar fasciitis) and Robert Covington (left knee bone bruise).

Stephen Curry led the Warriors in the win with 37 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Jonathan Kuminga totaled 26 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Andrew Wiggins added 23 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Golden State was without Klay Thompson (illness), Chris Paul (left hand fracture), Gary Payton II (left hamstring strain) and Moses Moody (left calf strain).

The Sixers are in the midst of a four-game losing streak. Their West Coast road trip concludes with a contest against the Utah Jazz on Thursday night. Here are some instant observations from the loss to the Warriors:

– On a night where not much went right for the Sixers, Harris stepped up and produced in a major way. He found success scoring around the paint against a smaller Warriors defense. In addition to his scoring production, Harris also played with a ton of effort on the offensive glass. The Sixers could not buy a bucket for much of the first quarter. However, they stayed in the game by crashing the boards and playing strong defense. Philadelphia grabbed eight offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone, with Harris playing a big part in that effort. Harris finished the game with a season-high six offensive rebounds. With Embiid struggling through a knee injury, Harris’ offensive performance was one of the few things that kept this game from becoming a blowout.

– Embiid, right from the opening minutes, did not look like himself against the Warriors. He lacked his typical touch on mid-range jumpers, clanking multiple attempts he normally would make in his sleep. He did not have his typical explosiveness, which vastly limited what he was able to do offensively. The results were an over-reliance on jumpers and his power game being practically nonexistent.

The bigger issue moving forward from this game is the status of Embiid’s health. He suited up against the Warriors, but clearly was still hobbled by the knee injury that has caused him to miss multiple games this season. At one point in the second quarter he fell to the floor after attempting to launch himself up to contest a shot around the rim.

There were multiple other moments where it was clear he had extremely limited mobility. To make things worse, Embiid left the game late in the fourth quarter after Kuminga landed on his knee while diving for a loose ball.

There was no reason for Embiid to still be in the game with a few minutes remaining. He was already hobbled by the knee injury, and the Sixers were down double digits. After the above play, whatever knee injury he already had appears to have only gotten worse.

After seeing how hampered Embiid was by the knee injury in as soon as the first few minutes of the game, the Sixers should have held him out for the remainder of the night. It was unbelievable to see the team let him step onto the floor in that much of a compromised state. Embiid’s desire to play is admirable, but at some point enough is enough. When he is this compromised physically, having him on the floor is nothing but a complete liability. The Sixers need to hold him out for an extended period of time in order to give his knee the proper time to heal. Keeping Embiid healthy for the postseason needs to be the team’s top priority throughout the remainder of the regular season.

Pat Beverley is in the midst of a tremendous stretch of basketball. He continues to fill up the stat sheet on a nightly basis. With Maxey again out of the lineup, Beverley stepped into the starting five and had a solid night against the Warriors. He played solid defense, crashed the glass and spaced the floor by knocking down a couple 3-pointers. While he has been playing well this season, adding another secondary ball handler should still be a priority for the Sixers heading into the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

– Down multiple wing players, the Sixers were forced to dig deeper into their rotation. Jaden Springer, who has failed to earn consistent minutes this season, checked into the game midway through the opening quarter and immediately made a positive impact. He recorded a pair of steals off of playing help defense while also hitting the glass hard. The 21-year old also effectively pushed the ball in transition, leading to a couple of impressive finishes around the basket. His play spurred a 10-0 Sixers run late in the first quarter, giving the team life after a slow start. He still has a lot of room to grow, especially offensively, but this was one of the best games of his career. Springer finished with 10 points, five rebounds, two assists and four steals.

Korkmaz also took advantage of the opportunity afforded him by the Sixers’ numerous injuries. He provided a major spark off the bench, knocking down five of his six attempts from 3-point range. His outside shooting loomed large for a team that was in huge need of an offensive boost against the Warriors.

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