Familiar themes haunt Sixers in crushing loss to Pacers



Three-point shooting. Late-game miscues. Struggles on the road.

These three things have been themes for the Sixers this season and they all played a part Monday in a 101-95 loss to the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

For the second straight game, the Sixers held a nine-point lead at halftime but couldn't build on it in the third quarter.

Their sixth straight road loss drops them to 7-14 away from the Wells Fargo Center and 25-16 overall. They return home Wednesday to host the Brooklyn Nets.

Here are observations from the loss:

Another uneven effort from Simmons

After an impressive first half on both ends in Dallas Saturday, Simmons disappeared in the second, going scoreless as the Mavericks steamrolled the Sixers.

It was a similar issue Monday. 

He was nearly unstoppable in the first half, driving by the likes of Malcolm Brogdon and finishing physically at the rim.

This drive could very well have been the most impressive one of Simmons’ career.

He had a game-high 20 points (9 of 11) at halftime. He was getting anywhere he wanted on the floor.

And of course, what would a Sixers game be this year without a mention of Simmons’ defense? The NBA leader in steals came up with this one late in the first half. Jeremy Lamb made a business decision on the other end.

He went just 1 of 4 for four points in the third, though this drive was a beaut.

Simmons failed to score in the fourth, finishing with 24 points, 14 rebounds and three assists.

Better late than never for J-Rich

After being named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week earlier in the afternoon, Josh Richardson just couldn’t quite get it going through the first three quarters. He was just 2 of 10 from the field and 0 of 5 from three.

With the Sixers locked in a tight one, Richardson came up with a few huge buckets down the stretch. He had 17 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, including this ridiculous three with the shot clock winding down.

It appears Brown has found something using Richardson in the pick-and-roll. He continues to also excel in the midrange. Unfortunately for the Sixers, they couldn’t get good looks when the Pacers keyed in on Richardson in the guts of the game.

Defense shows up

The first was one of the better defensive halves the Sixers have played this season. They held the Pacers to 34.1 percent from the field and made everything difficult on Indiana.

Al Horford was especially good in the pick-and-roll. They’ve changed up their coverage when Horford plays the five. When Embiid plays, he’ll drop in coverage on pick-and-rolls. Brett Brown has made an adjustment with Horford, allowing the veteran big to come up and corral. It’s led to much better results.

Their help and rotations were sharp. They rebounded well. It was a strong effort for most of the game.

The second half wasn’t as strong, but just like in Dallas, the Sixers didn’t take advantage of their opportunities to bust the game open on the offensive end and that seemed to leak over into their defense.

More struggles from three

The Sixers went just 9 of 37 from three against the Mavericks and it took a hot shooting fourth quarter just to get there. Those shooting woes continued in Indiana.

They went just 3 of 16 in the first half and 4 of 26 through three quarters. They finished 6 of 33. It felt like they had plenty of opportunities to hit dagger threes to extend several leads but failed to do so.

The Sixers need shooting. The trade deadline is Feb. 6.

Peculiar rotation

James Ennis didn’t get off the bench Monday night. He wasn’t listed on the injury report and there was no word at the time of this post. It was a little peculiar to see Ennis out of the rotation.

Rookie Matisse Thybulle was probably the Sixers' most effective reserve. He’d been 0 for 11 since returning from his right knee injury. He broke that with a nice a lob from Simmons, but was just 1 of 5 from three. He had four rebounds, a steal and a block.

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