You can brush off a loss on the road to a feisty young Atlanta team, especially coming off two big wins.
But not showing up two nights later against an Orlando team fighting for its playoff life? Yikes.
The Sixers were physically in Orlando, but their effort was nowhere to be found in a 119-98 loss to the Magic at Amway Center Monday night.
The loss drops them to 47-27 on the season. Ben Simmons missed the game with an illness.
Here are observations from the game.
• The Sixers were sloppy early, turning the ball over eight times in the first half, leading to 10 Magic points. Because they couldn’t take care of the basketball, they were up by just three going into the locker room.
Much like in Atlanta, their defense was not tight. There were plenty of miscommunication issues, especially in the pick-and-roll. They allowed Orlando to shoot 37.9 percent from three.
At one point in the second half, the Sixers went 11:50 without a basket. The Magic are a good defensive team, but not that good. Missing Simmons hurts, but the Sixers still had plenty of offensive firepower on the floor Monday.
Their effort was lacking as the Magic looked like a team fighting for a playoff spot while the Sixers looked like a team playing out the string. It was truly a disappointing effort, especially coming off a disappointing loss.
• It was a weird first half for Joel Embiid, who nearly recorded a double-double but also turned the ball over four times and picked up two early fouls.
To start the second half, he decided to play straight bully ball, beating up on former Sixer Nikola Vucevic on multiple plays.
But the double teams became more aggressive after this basket and the Sixers' perimeter shooters were unable to make Orlando pay. The team went just 6 of 23 from three.
I'm not sure if it was him picking up his fourth or what, but Embiid didn't look right late in the game. He wasn't challenging anything at the rim and looked a step slow. He finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
• With Simmons out of the lineup, there was no doubt we’d be seeing Jimmy Butler used more as a point guard. Butler continues to look more than comfortable in that role as Brett Brown puts him in more situations that make him comfortable.
This pick-and-roll with Butler and Embiid was a thing of beauty.
I’d like to see Embiid roll to the rim more often. He and Butler can be an incredibly dangerous duo.
Butler was one of the few bright spots for the Sixers tonight, finishing with 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds. He was also one of the few players that actually showed anything defensively.
• With no Ben Simmons or James Ennis, T.J. McConnell got the start and Shake Milton and Jonathon Simmons got some run.
McConnell struggled, going 1 of 4 from the field with just two assists and two turnovers. He continues to be a liability when asked to defend bigger and more athletic players.
Milton, playing in his first NBA game since Feb. 2, was part of the first wave of subs. The rookie out of SMU has starred for the Blue Coats and gave a glimpse of what he brings to the table.
He made another nice cut to the basket on a Harris drive. Harris hit Milton backdoor, and he finished at the rim. Milton also nailed a three off the dribble. He just really has a feel for the game and can hit shots. He shows a ton of poise for a first-year player as well. He can also keep opposing guards in front of him.
The Sixers would have to convert Milton’s contract from a two-way deal to a standard NBA deal — which they can do at any time before the regular season ends with a corresponding move — for him to be eligible for the playoffs, but if he keeps showing out like this, he’s going to give the team plenty to think about.
He finished with 13 points on 6 of 8 shooting from the field.
• The only benefit of the Sixers getting their doors blown off in the second half was we got to see first-round pick Zhaire Smith make his NBA debut. Smith actually ended the team's scoring drought with his first NBA basket, a three from the top of the key.
• The Sixers were abused by two of their former players, Vucevic and Michael Carter-Williams. Vucevic put up 28 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Carter-Williams, the recent recipient of a second 10-day contract, put up 15 points, six rebounds and three assists. It just adds a little more salt to the wound.
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