When the NBA All-Star break concluded, the Philadelphia 76ers were expected to go on a run. After dealing with locker room tension, followed by a pile of drama created by the national media, everything was finally beginning to fall into place for Philly.
Despite whispers floating around stating that Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons won't get along and cannot coexist, the two All-Star's debunked those rumors as they got along just fine when they took down the Clippers with 26 points apiece at home before the break.
The first matchup against the Clippers felt like the start of a hot streak, but injuries blocked that from happening almost immediately. Ben Simmons returned from the All-Star break and ended up suffering from a lower-back injury.
Joel Embiid lasted a few games before he went out with a shoulder injury. Now, the Sixers are out in California for a week-long trip without two of their best players. During their first of four games on the road, Philly not only lost to the Clippers, but they also lost another starter as Josh Richardson suffered a nose contusion and a concussion.
Now, the Sixers are down three starters as they prepare to play the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center on Tuesday night. Initially, Sixers' head coach Brett Brown called for the trio of Richardson, Al Horford, and Tobias Harris to step up as they are the highest-paid players available for the team.
But now, that trio is down to just Horford and Harris on Tuesday night. That's not to say that other players' contributions aren't significant, but in order for the Sixers to have a chance at winning against the Lakers while shorthanded on the road, the highest moneymakers on the squad need to earn their paycheck.
How will the veteran forward Tobias Harris approach this upcoming game knowing what the team is missing, though? "It's the same mindset and approach from the last game," Harris said on Monday, via Sixers Wire's Ky Carlin. Although the Sixers lost to the Clippers, they put up an unexpectedly good fight. Unfortunately, a third-quarter collapse allowed Los Angeles to take control and come away victorious.
To try and avoid the same mistakes, Harris believes the Sixers need to come together more than ever and really work on implementing an all-around team effort. "We just want to go out there and pull for one another. Fight for each other and stay together throughout the whole night. It's the same type of mindset, just heightened a little bit."
The Sixers are scheduled to take on the Lakers at 10:00 pm EST. On Tuesday night.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_