Indiana is already a much deeper team than the Sixers, and Brett Brown's group will now be without Mike Muscala, who suffered a nose fracture and facial laceration after colliding with a teammate at Tuesday's practice (see story).
Meanwhile, Robert Covington remains questionable with back soreness.
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Here are three things to watch for Wednesday night's game against the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse:
1. Getting Embiid the ball
As Brett Brown likes to say, Joel Embiid is the "crown jewel" and the "centerpiece of everything we do," which means they have got to get him the ball. After Sunday night's loss to Brooklyn, both Brown and Embiid mentioned the inability to get the big man the ball inside. Embiid finished with just five paint touches and eight post-ups, both well below his season averages against one of the bottom-10 defensive teams in the NBA.
And Indiana is a much better defensive team than Brooklyn, ranking third in opponents' points allowed and sixth in opponents' field goal percentage. Tonight is going to be tough, but I'll be curious to see what offensive adjustments the Sixers make.
2. Not in Philly? We've got problems
Prior to Sunday night, I wasn't worried about the Sixers not winning on the road. Boston, Milwaukee and Toronto on the road are tough matchups and I could let the Detroit game slide (they were without Ben Simmons and Blake Griffin dropped 50). But, after that Brooklyn game, I've changed my tune.
Plus, out of the five road losses, four of those have come by at least 15 points. That's trouble. At the conclusion of last season, the Sixers had only five 15-plus-point losses in total. When the offense struggles, the defense starts to slack as well (which is what I see as the biggest reason for the number of blowout losses so early to start the season). It should be the opposite. If the offense struggles again tonight (which it very well may), the defense needs to step up.
3. Where's the fight?
Simmons said the team has been playing "soft." Embiid blatantly said he "sucked" and Brown called the Sixers' last performance "unacceptable."
Tonight's game is all about how this team responds. There's been a lot of talk among the players about needing to step up as a team. Win or lose, will we see the fight tonight?
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