Sixers’ second unit struggles, more takeaways from loss to Suns
The Sixers kicked off game three of their four-game Western Conference swing on Saturday afternoon. They would square off against Devin Booker and a red-hot Phoenix Suns team.
Things would not go the Sixers' way and they would drop their second straight game by a final score of 120-111. Here are some takeaways from the matchup.
Second unit struggles continue
The bench battle would tell the story of this game. Without Shake Milton in the lineup, the Sixers' bench unit continues to struggle to score the ball.
This inability to create offense from the second unit would prove to be one of the key factors that cost the Sixers this game. Joel Embiid and the starters would break out to nice runs, but the Suns would swing things right back in their favor when the stars came off the floor.
Phoenix's second unit would outscore the Sixers' bench 49-20 when all was said and done. Tyrese Maxey would lead the bench in scoring with just six points. It is going for this team to stay in games with this minimal production from the guys off the bench.
After the game, Doc Rivers would say that the bench unit has been struggling but that he is not pressing the panic button just yet. He would also say he thinks the group has played well this season, but have been in a cold spell over the team's last five games.
Seeing the second unit struggle like this makes it safe to say that Shake Milton can't get back soon enough.
Big three carrying the load
With the bench unit struggle to score, it has been on the stars to lead the charge for this team. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris would do their best to do that but would fall just short.
Embiid would continue his dominance this season against the Suns, scoring a team-high 35 points along with grabbing eight rebounds. Harris and Simmons would play their parts as well, both finishing with 18 points respectively. They would also shoot the ball extremely efficient, missing just five shots between the two of them.
Although it has come in losses, the Sixers' big three are starting to fire on all cylinders as of late. Embiid is still playing at an MVP level, Harris continues to play efficiently, and Simmons has done a much better job asserting himself as a scorer.
When the bench unit bounces back the Sixers might become an even tough team to beat with their stars playing at this level offensively.
Three-point shooting woes continue
Another area that the Sixers have struggled in as of late is their three-point shooting. Along with struggling to hit perimeter shots, they haven't been attempting much either.
As a team, they would shoot 7-17 from beyond against the Suns. Now 41.2% from deep is not a bad mark, but in the first half, they would shoot a horrid 2-11. They shot much better in the second half, but only attempted six shots from beyond the arc.
Even when the shots aren't falling the Sixers need to shoot a larger amount of threes. Joel Embiid has been unstoppable in the mid-range and around the rim this season, he needs the floor space to operate. With the team shooting minimal attempts from three it allows the defense to shrink the floor and collapse on Embiid.
This area will likely get back to form as Seth Curry continues to look like his old self. But until then, lack of three-point shooting is just as much of a key area for improvement as bench play.