By: Kylan Watson
Hitting this tough road stretch the Philadelphia 76ers needed to increase their defensive intensity and value the ball. They didn’t do either tonight as the Memphis Grizzlies destroyed them on the offensive glass and got more offensive possessions. This allowed them to get more shots up and propelled them to a 117-109 victory.
The game started out well for the Sixers, they jumped on Memphis from the opening tip-off. Tobias Harris was deadly from the three-point line as he hit five/six three-pointers and scored 21-points. He was not supposed to play tonight as he is dealing with a non-covid illness. However, he gave it a go tonight and kept Philly in the game despite some bad defensive stretches. This was his best three-point game in a Sixers uniform. With Philly getting more and more healthy and with the imminent return of James Harden. The Sixers will need his three-point ability. This stretch of being the man without Harden, Embiid, and Maxey in the line-up has unlocked Harris, and this can only help the Sixers who have found their offensive rhythm. Unfortunately for Philly if the game had ended after the first quarter, they would have won this game. There were still three quarters left to play and the second quarter was the Sixers undoing.
Stop me if you heard this before, a game for the Sixers was decided by the non-Embiid minutes. This was once again the case as Philly’s bench did not do enough to keep the Sixers in the game. The second unit has had some strong games, but this was not one of those games. They got dominated by Ja Morant (28-points) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (22-points) who combined for 50 of Memphis’ 117-points and once they got it going there was no stopping them. The duo did most of their damage from the paint and perimeter. When the Sixers forced them to miss a shot an offensive rebound would happen and lead to a backbreaking shot made that stopped the momentum the Sixers had. Losing the rebounding battle doomed them in this game and not taking care of the ball. They need to improve when it comes to rebounding. Philly cannot continue to give the better teams in the league more offensive opportunities. During their winning streak they limited teams to one opportunity on the offensive end and they need to find that team that gang rebounded and paid attention to the details on the back end to limit the offense of the opposing team.
The Sixers will now head to Houston for the final game of this road trip. To face another young scrappy team that will be looking to run them off the court. They will need to commit to gang rebounding to limit the Rockets on the offensive end. Additionally, they need to take care of the ball because the Rockets thrive on turning the opposing team over and getting fast break opportunities. If they want their 13th victory of the season on Monday night.