Richardson critical of Sixers ‘heart’ after brutal loss

Dave Uram
February 27, 2020 - 9:13 am

It’s time to start panicking about your Philadelphia 76ers.

In mid-January, I wrote a column emphasizing there’s no need to worry. It’s not like the Sixers were playing to their potential. They were an underwhelming 26-12, but there was optimism Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons would kick things into gear and get this underachieving team into the two-seed.

What a silly thought.

Instead, the 76ers road failures continue at an epic rate, Simmons is out for an uncertain amount of time and Embiid’s status, as of Wednesday night, is a mystery as well.

Embiid suffered a sprained right shoulder in the Sixers 108-94 defeat at the dreadful Cleveland Cavaliers. It happened late in the first quarter, forcing the big guy to leave the game for good. Without Embiid and Simmons, Tobias Harris (five-years, $180 million), Al Horford (four-years, $109 million) and Josh Richardson combined for 30 points on 12-of-35 from the floor.

It’s true that everything with the Sixers starts and ends with their two superstars, but Harris, Horford and Richardson were supposed to compliment Embiid and Simmons to form one of the best teams in the NBA. They weren’t facing the Bucks Wednesday night. It was the Cavaliers, and this loss was their seventh straight on the road, which is part of a stretch that’s 13 in the last 15 games away from South Philadelphia. They did not win a single road game in February.

That’s simply unacceptable.

Brown gave his team’s defense and physicality a C-minus. NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Serena Winters asked Richardson what’s the biggest thing to correct before Thursday’s game against the Knicks, and Richardson responded, “heart.” Brown always talks about focusing on getting his team’s form and spirit in the right spot in time for the playoffs, but if he’s giving physicality a low grade while Richardson is critical of effort, those aren’t ringing endorsements for a team that’s getting itself ready for postseason mode.

Wednesday night was a low point of many this season—certainly more than most of us expected.

The 76ers are 9-21 on the road, which is the worst mark for any playoff team, and only better than six other squads in the league. Their 27-2 record at Wells Fargo Center is the best in the sport.

Whether they have Embiid or not, there’s a good chance they’ll beat the lowly Knicks Thursday night. Or, at least they’re supposed to. However, whether they do or not, there’s nothing to feel good about regarding this team, especially if Embiid’s left shoulder is going to be a problem.