The Philadelphia 76ers are clearly a different team without perennial All-Star Joel Embiid.
Embiid was scratched a few minutes before tip-off Monday and the Sixers were thrashed 126-91 by the Memphis Grizzlies. The Sixers, who are 3-8 without Embiid this season, will host the Miami Heat on Wednesday.
Embiid is dealing with right rib soreness and is listed as questionable to play against the Heat. The same goes for Seth Curry (shoulder), who was scratched about 20 minutes before Monday’s loss.
“I knew Seth was struggling,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said. “Actually, a little bit of Joel, too. But we didn’t know to the extent.”
Tyrese Maxey led the way with 23 points, but the Sixers never really competed and were blown out. Their lack of depth was evident without Embiid and Curry. Tobias Harris scuffled and finished with only 12 points.
“That’s definitely a big scoring punch,” Harris said of missing Embiid and Curry. “With Joel, he’s been where our offensive game really flows through. So for us, it was just a tough adjustment. I thought we kind of looked a little bit lost out there a bunch of times starting in the third quarter.”
If these two key players are unable to play against the Heat, the Sixers must find new ways to execute. They shot just 4-of-22 from beyond the 3-point arc. They were poor defensively. They were outhustled on the boards. Nothing went right.
“This is burning film, throwing it away and move on to the next game,” Rivers said. “I thought the late scratches kind of threw us off.”
The Heat will look to rebound after a lackluster 105-94 loss on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday.
P.J. Tucker paced the Heat with a season-best 23 points, Kyle Lowry added 22 and Tyler Herro had 12.
Miami dressed only 11 players and continues to play without Jimmy Butler, who will miss his fourth straight game with a bruised tailbone.
“To be honest, we didn’t communicate well enough on the defensive end,” Lowry said. “That’s what killed us, but scoring 94 points is not enough.”
Caleb Martin is currently out due to health and safety protocols. As COVID-19 cases keep rising, teams throughout the league are juggling roster moves.
“At this point now, I think everybody has to recommit to the vigilance and everybody has to do their part,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Wearing masks, being responsible when we’re away from each other and just have to try to do the best that we possibly can versus something that is still there.
“It’s not something that we can 100-percent control and that’s probably what’s frustrating for all of us,” Spoelstra added. “Then just hope that we can get through this season and not have people get sick. Hopefully we can get past this rough patch right now.”
The Heat will continue to play with a depleted roster as Victor Oladipo (quad), Bam Adebayo (thumb) and Markieff Morris (neck) remain sidelined.
–Field Level Media