So far in this early season, it looks like the Philadelphia 76ers are determined to repeat their confounding road woes from a year ago.
You may never find a more infuriating team to follow and root for than the 2019-20 Philadelphia 76ers. If you do find one though, I bet it’ll be the 2020-21 iteration of the Sixers.
A year ago they were a talented if mismatched team. Too many forwards and bigs, not enough ball-handlers, play-makers and volume shooters, but still a team that should be able to out-talent their opponents on most nights. At least they could when they were at home, but less so when they went on the road.
The Sixers were abysmal on the road last season, finishing with the worst record of any playoff team at 12-26, two games worse than the 14-24 Portland Trail Blazers. They had the ninth-worst road record in the entire NBA with that mark.
At home, the Philadelphia 76ers were a whole different story. They had the best home record in the league at 31-4. The 19-win swing between road and home is absolutely staggering, and their ability to beat the best teams in the NBA in their own building only to head out on the road and get demolished by some of the worst teams in the league remains utterly befuddling.
The Sixers were bad in the bubble too, which leads one to assume it’s less a matter of a road disadvantage than simply a lack of not having their own homecourt advantage. Not that it even matters, but it’s so confusing you can’t help but try to find a rationalization for it.
There isn’t a clear solution, because it sure looks like those issues have traveled forward with this team into the new season. They got the job done on Saturday against the New York Knicks, winning 109-89, but in the second game of a back-to-back against the Cleveland Cavaliers (who played a double-overtime road game against the Detroit Pistons the previous night) they got demolished by a 118-94 final score.
The same old problems keep coming up for the Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers are running out of common denominators. The organization has a new head man in Daryl Morey, hired as president of basketball operations in the offseason. They have a new coach in Doc Rivers, replacing Brett Brown. They traded Al Horford and Josh Richardson, bringing in Seth Curry and Danny Green.
And yet they still find themselves flummoxed by the same old issues. It’s not fair to find fault with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, but they’re this team’s star duo. They’re going to need to do some soul-searching of their own if the Sixers are to cure whatever strange ailment continues to afflict them when they leave the friendly confines of their own home arena.
It is worth noting that while all the Sixers players who got significant minutes last season were much better at home, Embiid was by far the best of the bunch on the road. Of the returning trio of Embiid, Simmons and Tobias Harris, he leads the way with a net rating of -1.1, while Simmons checks in at -7.4 and Harris at -7.0.
Also worth noting, Embiid didn’t play in Sunday night’s debacle in Cleveland. We’ll see if it means anything in the end, but it’s something to keep an eye on as time goes by this season.