Instant Observations: 76ers Play With No Effort in Blowout Loss to Pacers

Instant Observations: 76ers Play With No Effort in Blowout Loss to Pacers Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers (29-14) were blown out 134-122 by the Indiana Pacers (25-20) on Thursday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. The game was not as close as the final score would indicate.

Joel Embiid, who was announced as an All-Star starter before the game, finished with 31 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Tyrese Maxey scored 22 points on 7-of-17 shooting. The Sixers were playing without Tobias Harris (illness), De’Anthony Melton (lumbar spine stress response), Marcus Morris Sr. (left foot plantar fasciitis), Robert Covington (left knee bone bruise) and Mo Bamba (right knee inflammation).

The Pacers were led by Pascal Siakam, who finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Myles Turner totaled 20 points, nine rebounds, one steal and two blocks. Indiana played without star guard Tyrese Haliburton (left hamstring strain injury management).

The loss snaps the Sixers’ six-game winning streak. Their next matchup is against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday evening. Here are some instant observations from the loss to the Pacers:

Embiid, Maxey have mixed bag offensive performances

The Sixers came into this game heavily shorthanded, although they still had their star duo of Embiid and Maxey. The duo got off to a slow start before eventually starting to heat up. The Pacers consistently threw a ton of double teams at Embiid, making it difficult for him to have any space after catching the ball. However, he adjusted by making quicker decisions with the ball, especially around the free-throw line area. A majority of his success came on mid-range jumpers, although he rarely made any considerable effort to play with physicality in the paint. To make matters worse, he had a brief injury scare in the second quarter. He was seen grabbing his knee after landing awkwardly, although he stayed in the game. Embiid played the entirety of the third quarter, even though the game clearly got out of hand early in the second half.

While Embiid did his work on the perimeter, Maxey was more effective in the paint. He could not buy a 3-pointer, missing seven of his eight attempts. However, he carved up Indiana’s defense on drives to the basket. The 23-year-old guard relentlessly attacked mismatches, easily getting into the paint and inflicting damage. He got to the free-throw line at a high rate, knocking down all seven of his attempts. While Maxey’s numbers were fine on the surface, this was not one of his finer performances of the season.

Sixers’ atrocious defensive effort

The Sixers have been a strong defensive team for much of this season, although that was not clear after their atrocious performance defensively against the Pacers. They gave up a ton of uncontested shots on the perimeter that Indiana took advantage of. The Sixers quickly tried mixing in some zone defense, although the results were the same if not worse. They gave up dribble penetration far too easily, effectively collapsing the inside of the defense. While Embiid usually can help clean up some of those mistakes, he made very little impact defensively against Indiana. Nobody on the Sixers’ roster, including typically strong defenders like Embiid and Pat Beverley, played with any level of consistent effort defensively. The Pacers got whatever they wanted for much of the night. Indiana shot 57% from the field and 42.9% from beyond the arc. There is no excuse for the Sixers’ poor defensive effort, something that needs to be cleaned up immediately.

Oubre Jr. disappears offensively

This game was tailor made for a huge Kelly Oubre Jr. night. The Sixers were facing an opponent that loves to play at a fast pace, and they were missing multiple typical rotation players. Oubre, typically known for providing a scoring punch, should have been in his element in this contest. However, for much of the night he was hardly noticeable on the floor. His first points of the game did not come until midway in the third quarter. He largely disappeared offensively, finishing the game with just five shot attempts. Even if the shots were not falling, Oubre needed to assert himself more in this game. Coming away from this game with this type of play is inexcusable, especially for a player whose primary attribute is his scoring ability. His play has gradually declined in recent weeks. It is clear the Sixers should not rely on Oubre to shoulder a large role on a nightly basis.

House Jr. takes advantage of extra opportunity

In a night full of largely disappointing performances for the Sixers, Danuel House Jr. provided a much needed spark off the bench. The Sixers were without a slew of wing players due to injury, giving House a larger role than usual against the Pacers. He took advantage, playing with a ton of energy and producing on both ends of the floor. He scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including this acrobatic reverse layup in the first half.

In addition to his scoring, House finished with two rebounds, an assist, two steals and a block in 19 minutes off the bench. He can be chaotic at times, but House’s play in recent weeks should earn him more consistent playing time.

House was not the lone reserve player to have a solid night against the Pacers. Jaden Springer made his return from a multi-game absence due to an ankle injury. He finished with eight points, all coming either via drives to the basket or via the free-throw line, and two rebounds in 15 minutes. KJ Martin showed some positives off the bench, totaling 11 points, three rebounds, two assists and three steals in 31 minutes. Ricky Council IV scored his first NBA points, finishing with 11 points while playing the entirety of the fourth quarter. Council’s physicality was immediately evident, and he even managed to knock down a 3-pointer.

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