4 keys for the Philadelphia 76ers for the rest of the season
The Philadelphia 76ers have somehow failed to live up to the lofty expectations saddled before them at the beginning of the 2019-20 NBA regular season.
Pundits labeled the Brett Brown-mentored squad as one of the favorites to emerge out of the East this year, following the addition of Al Horford and Josh Richardson over the summer. The All-Star pairing of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons also got some much-needed playoff experience last season.
The Sixers, however, have been plagued by inconsistent performances in the first half of the season and does not look anywhere near as dominant as the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and Miami Heat have been so far.
Despite their struggles, the team has still been good enough to hold the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference with a 37-24 slate. Let’s take a look at four keys for the Sixers in their remaining games.
Ben Simmons’ health
Almost every NBA team is experiencing some wear and tear after the first sixty games of the regular season. The Sixers are certainly one of those squads. The team must pray dearly to the basketball gods that their point forward Ben Simmons will be able to return in time for the postseason.
The 23-year-old Aussie is out indefinitely due to a lower back injury. Blessed with excellent court vision and a 6-foot-10 frame, Simmons is truly one of the most unique players in the league today. His presence at both ends of the floor is indeed irreplaceable for coach Brown, with averages of 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 8.2 assists, and a league-leading 2.1 steals.
Find a way to win on the road
For some unexplainable reason, the Sixers have been a different team on the road this season. The team has lost 22 of their first 30 away games. Their only saving grace is their league-best 28-2 record inside the Wells Fargo Center.
The Sixers must find a way to string wins away from Philadelphia in their remaining 21 regular season games. Given their road struggles, it’s also imperative for Philly to finish in the top-four to secure home court advantage in the playoffs, at least in the first round.
Improve offensive efficiency
A big part of the Sixers’ struggles is their inability to put buckets at a high rate. Scoring, after all, is still premium in today’s NBA, and Philly is not doing itself any favors by ranking 22nd in scoring, churning out 109.1 points per game. That number drops to 102.8 in the team’s losses. Philly is also 18th in offensive efficiency (1.060).
The team’s core of Embiid, Simmons, Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, and Al Horford all average double figures scoring this season. Alec Burks and Furkan Korkmaz are capable scorers off the bench and they must find their groove come playoff time.
Pick-up another veteran in free agency
With Simmons’ status still up in the air, some pundits are bewildered as to why the Sixers have yet to sign another playmaker in his stead. The free agency pool is still filled with battle-tested veterans with valuable experience who could certainly be of help to the team.
Veterans Jamal Crawford and J.R. Smith are still left unsigned, while Lance Stephenson is also expected to return from China soon. The team can make room by waiving rarely used backup center Kyle O’Quinn.