More Joel Embiid Heroics Cannot Overcome the ‘Glaring Holes’ the Philadelphia 76ers Possess

The Philadelphia 76ers are a team that has been plagued by injuries and losses the last few years. Injuries have taken their toll on this young squad, resulting in an average record of 23-43 over the past three seasons.

The “76ers roster” is a team that has glaring holes in their lineup. This team is not good enough to overcome the glaring holes they have. They need more Joel Embiid heroics, but those are not enough to make up for the lack of talent on this roster.

The Philadelphia 76ers were rescued by Joel Embiid, who had one of his greatest performances of the season against the Boston Celtics on Monday. But, in the absence of Ben Simmons, his heroics aren’t enough to make up for the obvious weaknesses on this Sixers squad.

As the front office evaluates the trade market for Simmons, 76ers head coach Doc Rivers indicated Monday that the club will struggle until the controversial star guard returns or the team finds a resolution. Even a guy as good as Embiid won’t be able to push this Sixers team forward.

Unfortunately, considering club president Daryl Morey’s previous remarks, Philly supporters may have to settle with a squad with more visible flaws than the Liberty Bell.

The 76ers, according to Doc Rivers, have “glaring holes” on the court without Ben Simmons.

“We don’t know what we are yet,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said of Ben Simmons’ absence. Ben has yet to appear in a game. You can see the gaping holes he’s left us with. And, you never know, he may or might not play. If he does, that’s fantastic. If he doesn’t, anybody we get will be able to assist us. …

December 20, 2021 — Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers)

The 76ers of Philadelphia are a team without a distinct identity. On Monday, Doc Rivers said as much.

The Sixers are 16-15 and sixth in the Eastern Conference after finishing as the top team in the conference previous season. In the previous month and a half, the Phillies have gone 8-13 in their last 21 games. Joel Embiid’s MVP-caliber season hasn’t helped the 76ers establish a rhythm, since he’s also missed 11 games.

Rivers stated his club is suffering without an impact player like Simmons in the rotation (h/t Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer). He also intimated that the 76ers will be in uncertainty until the destiny of the three-time All-Star is clarified.

“We haven’t figured out who we are yet.” Ben has yet to appear in a game. You can see the gaping holes he’s left us with. And, you never know, he may or might not play. If he does, that’s fantastic. If he doesn’t, anybody we get will be able to assist us.

–Doc Rivers, prior to the Boston Celtics’ game on Monday

Coming from a head coach, it doesn’t seem like a lot of faith. Rivers was even more deadpan when he said the Sixers’ only goal is to win games.

On Monday, the 76ers beat the Celtics, mostly due to Embiid’s contributions. The “glaring” holes that Rivers mentioned persisted, though.

Joel Embiid’s herculean effort isn’t enough to detract from Philadelphia’s flaws.

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Against the Celtics on Monday, Joel Embiid tried all he could to help the 76ers end their three-game losing streak.

Embiid led the team with 41 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and four blocks in the contest. It’s the third time in his career he’s had at least 40 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and four blocks in the same game, behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar by one.

The 27-year-old accomplished more than just that. In crucial occasions, he provided the Sixers with huge baskets. With about a minute remaining, Embiid hit a jumper from the left wing to give Philadelphia a 103-100 lead. He dribbled baseline to dodge a double-team before firing a stepback jumper over Enes Freedom and Marcus Smart on the following play. It tickled the twine and put the finishing touches to an outstanding effort.

Despite Embiid’s heroics, the Sixers’ faults were apparent.

All season, Philadelphia has battled to distribute the ball and produce easy points. The Sixers are 25th in the league in terms of assists per game, with just 20 in Monday’s game. Similarly, the Sixers are worst in the league in rebounding and were dominated on the glass against Boston, surrendering 11 offensive rebounds.

Ben Simmons’ absence looms particularly big for the 76ers in these two areas, as he can provide a lift to the team with his playmaking and size. Embiid, Seth Curry, and Tobias Harris (who has battled to live up to his deal) all put in strong efforts for the Sixers, but they only managed to scrape out a victory because they’re still weak in other areas.

Is it really worth it for the 76ers to risk a year of Embiid’s prime?

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid looks on during a game against the Boston Celtics

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid looks on during a game against the Boston Celtics On December 20, 2021, Joel Embiid looks on during the fourth quarter of a game against the Boston Celtics | Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

The 76ers’ general manager, Daryl Morey, said before the outset of the 2021-22 season that they would not settle on a Ben Simmons deal. With Embiid in his peak, he said the squad is motivated to win now.

Isn’t it implying that Philadelphia should take the problem more seriously?

Given Embiid’s history of durability difficulties, the Sixers cannot afford to squander any one season during his peak years. No matter how good Embiid plays, if Philadelphia wants to play the long term with Simmons, it risks being mired in mediocrity.

Many 76ers fans are undoubtedly still wary about Simmons and his probable return to the lineup. However, it’s become evident that Philly needs much more than Embiid to be competitive, and Simmons can cover those “glaring flaws” that Rivers mentioned so freely.

Basketball Reference provided the statistics.

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