The Sixers Aren’t The Team We Thought They Were

Simmons is a much bigger issue right now than Jo.

Jim Rome
May 08, 2019 - 10:03 am
Ben Simmons

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You knew the Sixers were in for a rough night even before the game started. Joel Embiid was not at the team’s shoot around in the morning.

Jimmy Butler was asked if he’s asked Jo how he’s doing: "I didn't ask how he's doing. I can look at him and tell how he's doing."

How does he look? "Sick. I tried to stay as far away as I could to tell you the truth. I love him but I don't want to be sick. I hate being sick."

One more thing, JB… what’s he got? "I'm not a bleeping doctor, I don't know."

Perfectly said. Word came down that Jo had an upper respiratory infection. So that’s an upper respiratory infection, the ongoing gastro-errrrr stomach distress, and the knee issue. That’s a helluva list… enough to make you burn one of your sick days. Which is apparently exactly what the rest of the Sixers did.

Because Toronto played like they were going against air last night. That was easier than a shoot around. The final score was Toronto a billion, Philadelphia a humiliation.

Kawhi did this.

Kawhi did that.

Pascal Siakam did this.

And Pascal Siakam did that.

And I really want to believe that Marc Gasol waved for Joel to come out and guard him at the three point line, but in truth, it was just for a screen.

But who cares? Toronto called their shot, dominated and mocked and humiliated Philly in the process. Yes, THAT PROCESS!. 

That was grown ass men against boys last night. And whereas in previous games it was all Kawhi all by himself, last night, his entire crew showed up. Everyone was looking to eat. Siakam. Gasol. Kyle Lowry. Danny Green. Serge Ibaka. Hell… Norman Powell, if you need him.

Remember a few days ago when everyone was convinced that Kyle Lowry was done? He was beating people down the court. Remember a few days ago when Marc Gasol was allegedly washed? He was doing whatever the hell he wanted. And remember when Kawhi was packing his bags? He’s one win away from the conference finals.

But as good as Toronto was last night, Game 5 was also about how terrible the Sixers were. So where do you put the blame? A ton of you are putting it on Jo for his 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 turnovers?  But not his coach, Brett Brown:

I get why some people are coming for him. Joel Embiid is larger than life. He’s huge on the court, even bigger in press conferences, and an absolute legend online. And he talks.  A lot.

And Philadelphia needs him right now. In a big way. Just as any team in the playoffs would need their big man who averages 28 points, 14 boards, 4 assists, and 2 blocks. But he clearly isn’t right.  He’s trying, but he’s not that guy right now, either because of his lungs, his stomach, or his knee. Or all three.

Which is why Jo taking all the heat for how he’s played is kind of weird. And kind of ridiculous. There are some things you just can’t play through. 

If he is spending nearly all of the time between games either in bed or on the throne, what can you really expect from him in games? If your point is that he averaged 28 per game in the regular season and he’s not doing that now, right. He’s sick. That’s what happens when you’re sick. You generally don’t play as well as when you’re healthy.

So either you think he’s not sick and that he’s faking it and the team is covering for him, or you don’t understand how it works when you get sick.

And if the issue is his body language, okay, maybe, I guess. But that feels like a reach. And if you’re telling me Jo’s body language is the reason why the Sixers are down 3-2 and just got their doors blown off, then you’re telling me the Sixers aren’t the team we thought they were. Not if the rest of them can’t pick the big fella up when he’s hanging. 

What I’m saying it, their biggest problem isn’t that Jo is sick: The problem is that other guys aren’t stepping up. Jimmy Butler is doing what he can, but Tobias Harris had 15 points last night. JJ Redick had 3. Ben Simmons had 33 points. Oh, wait, that’s in the last four games.

That’s right. 33 points in the last four games. Total.

I know he’s young. I know Toronto is going to throw different looks at him, but 33 points in four games can’t happen. It just can’t. I know he doesn’t have a jumper yet and that if you keep him out of the open floor, he’s not nearly as dangerous. But if you are looked at as a potential future MVP candidate, you can’t be invisible in playoff games like this.  Simmons is a much bigger issue right now than Embiid. 

He hasn’t just become one-dimensional, he’s borderline no dimensional. And that’s brutal. Again, he’s young. He’s still making the transition from a wing to a point guard and he’s done an incredible job of doing that on the fly, but this is a chance to step up.  And he’s not rising to the occasion. And His team needs him. Badly.  

Somebody, somewhere needs to find Jared Dudley to give a scouting report on Simmons to shake him out of this. Otherwise, this series isn’t going back to Toronto. Yes, Jo is part of the problem, but not nearly as big as the rest of the guys he’s running with that aren’t picking him up.