The Sixers, playing without Joel Embiid (sore right rib) and Seth Curry (sore right shoulder), got absolutely stomped last night in Memphis, losing to the Grizzlies 126-91. The Grizzlies have now won 11 of their last 15 games and are playing excellent basketball, although they were without star Ja Morant last night, who is currently in protocols.
The game stunk. Tobias Harris was a no-show in a game where they needed him to step up, with 12 points on 12 shots and just two assists. The Sixers couldn't get back in transition and were outscored 28-11 on the break. They couldn't stop the Grizzlies in the halfcourt, either, getting beat off the dribble time and time again to force help defenders into rotations and create kickout passes to open 3s for the Grizzlies.
They're just so slow. The second half was basically an unwatchable mess.
The game at least saw the return of an aggressive Tyrese Maxey, who had 23 points on 9-17 shooting to go along with seven assists. It's certainly not a coincidence that we saw the return of Maxey as an offensive focal point with Embiid out of the lineup. When he's playing in lineups with Embiid, Maxey averages just 17.7 points per 100 possessions on a 52.4% true shooting. When Maxey is playing without Embiid, that jumps to 29.5 points per 100 possessions on a 58.2% true shooting.
That's not to suggest that it is Embiid's fault that Maxey defers so much, just to point out that Maxey clearly does defer. It's something that Doc Rivers, Tyrese Maxey and the group really need to figure out, because it's not like the Sixers' offense is unstoppable with Embiid and Maxey sharing the court. In fact, at 109.3 points per 100 possessions, it's right around league average. There are gains to be made, especially when we start projecting to what will be needed to succeed in the playoffs, and Maxey putting more pressure on the rim is the most logical place to turn to, at least until a trade is eventually made.