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Joel Embiid says 76ers must step outside comfort zones, space the floor and shoot

76ers players Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 25: Ben Simmons #25, and Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers react to a play against the Milwaukee Bucks on December 25, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Since their inspiring Christmas win over the Bucks, the 76ers have lost three straight. Philadelphia players are talking about accountability and looking in the mirror. Though stronger than the usual rhetoric, it’s still vague.

Joel Embiid appeared to send a more pointed message to Ben Simmons.

Embiid, via Paul Hudrick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

“We just got to look at ourselves and see what we can do better individually,” Embiid said. “We gotta help each other, even if that means being outside of your comfort zone as far as to help the team win. Meaning that if you gotta space and shoot it, you gotta do it. We need everybody to buy into that. We’ll be fine. We’re gonna be fine. We’re still finding our groove. We haven’t been totally healthy, the whole starting lineup. Like I said, we’ll be fine.”

I hope Embiid is talking about Simmons. Because Embiid will never convince anyone he’s not talking about Simmons.

Simmons’ lack of 3-point shooting has made him a punchline.

It was a big deal when Simmons made a 3-pointer a few weeks ago. 76ers coach Brett Brown said he wanted the unconventional point guard to attempt at least one 3-pointer per game from there. In 13 games since, Simmons has taken zero non-heave 3-pointers.

That’s a big reason Philadelphia’s offense sometimes looks clunky. Simmons is a good player whose open-court skills and defense help his team. But his complete lack of outside shooting often cramps spacing for his teammates.

Will Embiid’s comment inspire Simmons to shoot more? Or will Simmons, who’s clearly unconfident hoisting from the perimeter, become even more reluctant?

Embiid’s default strategy is usually talking more. We’ll see how that works when roping in Simmons.