The Philadelphia 76ers had a massive advantage in Monday night's game against the Charlotte Hornets. Not only did the Hornets play on Sunday night in Atlanta, marking their game against the Sixers as the second night of a back-to-back, but they were also missing five players such as LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Mason Plumlee, Jaden McDaniels, and Ish Smith.
Despite having a shorthanded roster on the second night of a back-to-back, the Hornets gave the Sixers a run for their money on Monday. A solid first quarter by Charlotte was wiped out by a productive second quarter from the Sixers. Although the Hornets stayed in the game by outscoring the Sixers in the third quarter, Joel Embiid's dominance wouldn't allow Charlotte to pull off the upset.
However, the Hornets did well enough to take the Sixers into overtime. The game came down to the wire as it was won by one possession, but Joel Embiid and the Sixers came out on top with a 127-124 victory.
When Embiid and the Sixers picked up a tight win in Atlanta on Friday, Embiid was excited for his team as they picked up an unlikely victory on the road. However, on Monday, the big man was more critical this time around as he was disappointed in his team's defensive performance in Charlotte.
"We sucked defensively," Embiid admitted on Monday. "I don't know what kind of adjustments we can make." Typically, the Sixers are serviceable in the defensive department as they rank 17th in defensive rating.
While Charlotte leads the league in points per game on offense, the Sixers faced them while the Hornets were missing two of their top three scorers. However, that wasn't an issue for Charlotte, as Kelly Oubre had his way with Philly's defense by scoring 35 points in 42 minutes.
"For us, we were really bad defensively," Embiid continued. "We got to do a better job. Oubre had a huge game for them. So I felt like tonight, defensively, we were just going through the motions. We gotta start there. We can't give them a chance."
Luckily, Philly's defensive struggles didn't cause them to suffer a loss. Now, they'll head into Wednesday's rematch against the Hornets, searching for their third-straight win before they have a quick turnaround and face the Utah Jazz at home on Thursday.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.