The Sixers have had a relatively successful start to the season, going 3-1 in the first four games, losing only to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Despite this better-than-average start, however, there are still a few things to be concerned about as the season goes on.

Here are the biggest concerns for the Sixers in the 2020-2021 season.

The Inability to Play Without Joel Embiid

First things first, this is not an anti-Dwight Howard take. In fact, Howard has looked pretty good for the Sixers when he comes off of the bench. Howard performs very well in the backup center’s role in limited minutes when Embiid is off the floor. However, he is not the caliber of player that Joel Embiid is.

In the Cavaliers game that the Sixers lost, Embiid did not play due to back stiffness, and the Cavs promptly handled the Sixers. The real issue when Embiid doesn’t play is on the offensive end. Dwight Howard is still very capable on the defensive end, but Embiid is the Sixers’ anchor offensively. Here is a scenario that arises in literally every Sixers game. The Sixers start struggling on offense, usually in the third quarter, and cannot buy a basket. It doesn’t matter how many timeouts they use; they cannot manufacture a bucket.

What is the solution? It is, and always will be, give the ball to Joel Embiid in the post and get out of his way.

He is so clearly a mismatch for literally every center in the league and it allows the rest of the team to catch their breath.

When Embiid is not on the floor, the offense struggles; it is as simple as that. Also, a key reason why Joel Embiid should undoubtedly be considered for NBA MVP.

The Disappearance of the Bench

The Sixers came into the season in a relatively new spot in terms of roster construction. The team was actually deep for the first time in a long time. Furkan Korkmaz, Matisse Thybulle, Dwight Howard, Tyrese Maxey, Shake Milton, and Mike Scott are the components of a very solid second unit. However, the team is unable to put anything together offensively thus far.

We’ll get to Matisse shortly, but let’s look at the other members of the bench.

Tyrese has shown flashes of what a good player he can and will be but is still learning. Furkan has looked good offensively but is a complete liability defensively and is now hurt. As stated earlier, Howard is still excellent defensively but limited offensively. Shake is proving to be an excellent sixth man but tends to disappear. Finally, Mike Scott is invisible on the floor at times, both offensively and defensively.

Need more proof of how bad the bench has been? In the most recent game against the Toronto Raptors, the Sixers bench players combined for 46 total minutes and only 10 points. That cannot happen if this team wants to win a championship.

What Happened to Matisse Thybulle?

Photo: All-Pro Reels/CC license

Matisse Thybulle was one of the most promising players last season for the Sixers. He proved to be a legitimate defensive threat who had some skills offensively but did need more polishing. This season, however, he seems to have taken a step back. Whether it is the lack of opportunity or the regression on his part, Matisse is not at all the player he was last year. Through the first four games this season, Matisse has played zero minutes, seven minutes, eight minutes, and twelve minutes respectively. In those combined 27 minutes, he has had zero points, one rebound, and one steal. That’s it. How could that happen?

The possibility could be that he has regressed as a player. Maybe Doc doesn’t see him as an every-game rotational player. Or, he may not be getting the opportunities. It is very rare that Matisse is on the court without any starters in the game. Therefore, he is never the first, second, or maybe even third option offensively. That being said, even if he isn’t the focus, he does need to make do with the opportunities he does have or can create. Hopefully, he can get this slow start turned around.

Hopefully, all of these issues can get turned around.

The Sixers look good in this very young season, but these are still things the team needs to look out for.

What are you most concerned about with the Sixers?

Featured Image: All-Pro Reels/CC license
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