3 observations after Pacers snap Sixers’ winning streak at six games originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Sixers couldn’t stretch their winning streak to seven Thursday night.
They suffered a 134-122 loss to the Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, dropping to 29-14 this season.
The Sixers were down five players to begin their five-game road trip.
Tobias Harris missed Thursday’s game because of an illness. De’Anthony Melton (lumbar spine stress response), Marcus Morris Sr. (left foot plantar fasciitis), Robert Covington (left knee bone bruise) and Mo Bamba (right knee inflammation) were all still out.
All-Star Pacers point guard Tyrese Halliburton (left hamstring injury management) was sidelined as well.
Here are observations on the Sixers’ defeat in Indiana:
Pacers allowed to play their game
The Sixers did not start the night like a team on a winning streak and riding the momentum of their star big man’s 70-point performance last time out.
They played leaky transition defense, missed layups, and fell behind 15-6 on a Turner dunk. Sixers head coach Nick Nurse asked for timeout and subbed in Danuel House Jr. and KJ Martin.
The Sixers shifted to a 2-3 zone, which didn’t appear to bother the Pacers much. Indiana easily found soft spots in the high post and along the baseline.
The Pacers kept beating the Sixers in transition, too. Embiid eventually settled into his usual automatic mid-range rhythm, but the fact that he drew no first-quarter free throws helped the Pacers do their thing in the open floor. Indiana scored 13 of the game’s first 15 fast-break points and played frontrunner the entire night. The Sixers never led.
Little to like in road trip opener
Embiid was the only Sixer with a three-point make until a Nicolas Batum triple late in the second quarter. Maxey started 0 for 5 from long range.
The Sixers’ Maxey-led second unit couldn’t turn the game around with Embiid on the bench. The Pacers blitzed Maxey in the backcourt and he threw a hurried pass out of bounds. That was the Sixers’ fourth turnover, matching their total from Monday’s win over the Spurs.
House, Martin and Paul Reed all had two fouls early in the second quarter. Playing with aggression and energy is perfectly fine, but a few of those fouls Thursday simply didn’t need to happen. For instance, Reed tried for an offensive rebound, lost out to Isaiah Jackson, and then immediately fouled him.
Though Embiid posted 19 first-half points, he didn’t have everything his way against Turner and the Pacers. Turner tightly contested jumpers, avoided mistakes, and lived with some of the seven-time All-Star’s typical tough shotmaking.
Embiid grabbed his right knee in the second quarter after missing a layup and then landing awkwardly. He remained in the game after a Sixers timeout, which is obviously very important in the big picture.
But as far as Thursday night in isolation, the Sixers didn’t have much to feel good about.
No shortage of garbage time
The Sixers were down just a dozen points at halftime, but Indiana opened the third quarter with a 10-0 run. A Siakam slam built the Pacers’ lead to 25.
Through the third quarter, the Sixers had just three double-figure scorers in Maxey, Batum and Embiid, who extended his 30-point streak to 22 games. Indiana had seven players with at least 11 points heading into the fourth period.
The Sixers cut a bit into the Pacers’ advantage in the fourth. Council knocked down his only three-point attempt and scored 11 points, including two free throws that trimmed the Sixers’ deficit to 120-107 with just under five minutes left.
On Saturday night in Denver, the Sixers won’t expect their rookie guards to play the whole fourth quarter.