The Philadelphia 76ers played some uninspiring basketball on Monday night in Detroit. After getting the day off on Sunday, the Sixers shockingly didn't have much energy on Monday as they took on the Detroit Pistons at the Little Caesars Arena.
Unshockingly enough, the Sixers also didn't have Joel Embiid on the floor. As the big man appeared on the injury report on Sunday night due to back tightness, the Sixers ruled Embiid out for Monday's game.
Hours before tip-off, Rivers made it clear that Embiid's setback is minor. And barring any last-minute changes, Rivers fully expects Embiid to play on Wednesday. With hopes that Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris could help fill the void on Monday night, the Sixers failed to overcome the Pistons without their star for the fourth time this year.
A 119-104 loss sent the Sixers back to Philly with a 12-6 record. Considering they remain first in the Eastern Conference, one would think there isn't much to complain about. However, Philly's record when Joel Embiid doesn't play does raise some eyebrows. Zero wins and four losses -- that's what the 76ers have to show for when Embiid is off the floor.
Looking at the big picture, though, Rivers isn't ready to panic. “It’s what 19 games or whatever into the season,” Rivers said on Monday following the loss. “I don’t have a lot of concerns at this point in the season with all of the guys who have been in and out. I really don’t worry about it that much. Obviously, you have to win games without Joel, but you've got to get your team in order first."
Rivers raises a valid point. Going on any type of losing streak is never an ideal situation for any team. When the sample size is small, though, there shouldn't be any need to panic. "I think the second half of the season, if that happens, we’ll see more," Rivers continued. "Right now, it’s not on my list of concerns. I’ll put it that way.”
Although Rivers and the Sixers understand that missing their best player is always going to affect the team no matter what, there was more to Monday's loss than the absence of Embiid. One, the Sixers simply came out flat. The energy was off, key players found themselves in foul trouble, and shots just weren't falling when they needed to.
And two, Rivers also sees another absence as a key to the Sixers' struggles. “A lot of these games we’ve had multiple guys out," he explained. "Tonight, it was just Joel and Mike Scott, and I think not having that extra [power forward] does make a difference. But we didn’t play well tonight. This is a very winnable game, in my opinion.”
At the end of the day, Rivers believes the Sixers should've played better and won -- it's as simple as that. And while the team's track record without Embiid is notable, less than five games worth of evidence isn't enough to go into panic mode.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_