The Philadelphia 76ers haven't had it easy as of late. Before last weekend, the team was on a six-game road trip with most matchups on the other side of the country. After returning home, the Sixers then had to play in back-to-back games before hitting the road once again for another four-game trip away from home.
Tuesday's game in Boston went swimmingly for the Sixers as they dominated the Celtics to get off to a nice start on the trip. One would think having Wednesday off, and just a light practice on Thursday would have the Sixers looking recharged and ready to take down a shorthanded New Orleans Pelicans team on Friday night, but that wouldn't be the case.
In New Orleans, the Sixers looked out of it. Joel Embiid, who's typically good for at least close to 30 points this season, scored just 14 points. Ben Simmons, who's been in an offensive slump lately, continued to struggle on Friday as he scored just 10 points.
Aside from Tobias Harris in the starting lineup and Furkan Korkmaz off the bench, the Sixers struggled as a whole in the scoring department. In addition, the Sixers lost the rebounding battle 56-47 and turned the ball over five more times than the Pelicans.
Although Philly showed a little spark of energy later on in the second half, it was too little too late. By the time the game ended, the Sixers had taken on a 101-94 loss in a game that they should've won. Following the matchup, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers was asked about what contributed to the loss the most. Never one to sugarcoat his analysis, Rivers claimed his team was mentally weak on Friday night.
“I was just disappointed with how we approach the game, mentally,” Rivers said. “I thought we lost this game upstairs. I thought this was a mental weakness game for us. We haven’t had a lot of those, but tonight, we were mentally weak.”
Rivers' players shared a similar sentiment. After the game, Sixers veterans Danny Green and Tobias Harris both stepped up and spoke on the loss following their head coach and couldn't help but agree with his assessment on the team's mindset.
“I don’t think we came to play tonight the way we should have,” said Danny Green. “I think we just kind of eased into the game and thought it was gonna be, not given to us, but we were gonna win just off our sheer talent. By the time we tried to turn the switch on, it was too late.”
“We let a lot of things build-up, but I just thought as a group, and this is even myself speaking, our energy wasn’t where it needed to be as a whole group,” Tobias Harris admitted. “That’s something that, in games, when things are going good, it’s easy to have great energy, but when things are a little rocky, and up and down, those are games where the whole team has to pull their energy together to win.”
Admitting they were mentally off on Friday night is a positive sign heading into Saturday's matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Although the second nights of back-to-backs are never easy for any team, the Sixers know they have to have a much tougher mindset heading into Saturday's battle with the 20-32 Thunder.