76ers

Sixers' week ahead: Well-deserved rest for Joel Embiid, don't overreact to Tobias Harris' struggles and more

76ers

Off the heels of their biggest win of the season, the Sixers will have to play a game without their “crown jewel.”

“Sixers 3.0” should be back together as they try to conquer their Boston demons and head back out on the road against an improved Atlanta team.

Let’s take a look at the Sixers’ week ahead.

No Embiid in Charlotte

After a clutch 40-point performance in which he also spent a good portion of the game guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo, this seems like as good a time as any to get Joel Embiid some rest.

The Hornets are falling out of the playoff picture and they’re a team the Sixers should be able to beat without Embiid. Kemba Walker did hang 60 on them earlier this season, but the Sixers still won that game. Walker has also slowed down after a torrid start, shooting just 40 percent from the field and 32 percent from three over his last 13 games.

There are only 12 games left in the regular season, but the Sixers’ schedule does soften up. You can expect Embiid and possibly other veterans to get rest days when appropriate. Delivering their starting five to the postseason healthy is — and should — be the team's top priority.

Don’t overreact to starters ‘struggling’

Tobias Harris is averaging just 16.8 points and shooting 32 percent from three over his last eight, which means we should totally freak out and panic, right? Nope. Not even close.

Before Harris’ “slump,” it was Jimmy Butler that everyone was freaking out about. Then Butler went out and had two very good offensive performances against the Kings and Bucks. Everyone also lost their minds when JJ Redick was struggling after the All-Star break. He’s shooting 58 percent from three over his last four.

 

It’s understandably hard to ride the ebbs and flows of an 82-game season, but that’s why you go out and get Butler and Harris. This team has multiple options now. Harris will have moments to shine — as will Redick, Butler, Ben Simmons and, of course, Embiid.

No luck vs. C’s

The Sixers’ recent struggles against the Celtics are no secret. 

The most important thing to remember is that this is the not the same team that lost to Boston in five games in the playoffs last season. This is not the same team that lost to them on opening night or in overtime on Christmas. This isn’t even the same team that lost by three to the Celtics before the All-Star break.

If everyone is present and accounted for, Wednesday will mark just the eighth game for this version of the Sixers. As Sunday’s win in Milwaukee showed, this team can be scary. It’s another stiff test, but one this iteration of the Sixers can pass if they’re clicking on all cylinders.

Young Hawks can be dangerous

The Hawks are a rebuilding team, but that doesn’t mean the Sixers can take them lightly. They have played better basketball recently as rookie Trae Young has started getting acclimated to the NBA. Young is averaging 25.3 points and 8.2 assists while shooting 42 percent from three since the All-Star break.

We also can’t forget about Kevin Huerter, who dropped a rookie career-high 29 points in a win over the Sixers back on Jan. 11. Second-year forward John Collins also hit a big shot late in that game and has had a strong sophomore campaign overall.

Granted, Embiid didn’t play in that matchup, but the point is, the Sixers can’t afford to take Atlanta lightly. Perhaps the Sixers will feel like they owe the young Hawks one.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers