The month of December was a roller coaster for the Sixers and the club will be looking for a more consistent January. After Joel Embiid’s instantly infamous 0 point game against Toronto in late November, the team got on a roll winning 9 of 10 in early December. But over the past 2-3 weeks, the club has been hot and cold. Despite dominating Milwaukee on Christmas Day, they’ve had two different 3 game losing streaks. Matisse Thybulle being sidelined over this period and Joel Embiid missing a few games has caused the team to lose some of these close games but fans are starting to question the bigger picture as well.
It only took till New Year’s Eve to find out that Ben Simmons appears to be in a relationship yet again with Kendall Jenner. The couple was seen out on Tuesday night celebrating the New Year. This comes with no surprise immediately after the team was manhandled on the road in Indiana without having Embiid. Several players spoke up after the embarrassing loss on New Year’s Eve including Josh Richardson.
The Sixers are on a 3 game losing streak and 4-6 in their last 10 games
Josh Richardson: “I don't think that there's enough accountability in our locker room right now, honestly…I feel like we kind of go play, and don't compete as much.”
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) December 31, 2019
The only thing we can think about now is why has Kendall Jenner returned to destroy this team? Simmons and the Sixers need to get back on the right track as they face a tough slew of teams to start the New Year with tough road games in Houston, Dallas, and Indiana. So, let’s get into the 6 games you can’t miss in January 2020.
January 3rd @ Houston
The Rockets enter this match-up with a 23-11 record and the current 4th seed in the Western Conference. The new duo of Westbrook and Harden has been somewhat successful for Houston but it’s unlikely they will be able to compete evenly with either of the Los Angeles teams in a 7 game playoff series.
The Rockets have won 7 of their last 8 matchu-ps against the Sixers dating back to 2015, including both games last season. For the Sixers to win, they have to shut down Harden, who has put up video game-type numbers at times this year. It will be interesting to see how they defend Houston and their two elite guards. The Sixers will likely put Simmons on either Harden or Westbrook and Josh Richarson on the other. Overall, the team can easily escape with the win but, they’ll have to overcome the difficult road atmosphere in Houston led by Ted Cruz.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) May 29, 2018
And who knows, maybe if they get desperate the Rockets could even throw a 10-day offer at Cruz. The real Ted Cruz that is, not to be confused with Grayson Allen.
January 9th vs. Boston
There’s nothing better than seeing the Sixers dominate the Celtics and we’ve been able to see just that twice in the 1st half of the season. Without having Al Horford, Boston has proven unable to slow down Joel Embiid, who has averaged 26.5 points and 13 rebounds in two games against Boston this season. None the less, the Celtics still hold the 2 seed in the East with a 23-8 record behind newly signed free agent Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum. The Sixers know how to beat this team and that’s to feed Embiid. If they can get that done and slow down the Celtics duo as they have already this year. they should have no problem.
January 11th @ Dallas
In the previous meeting this year, the Sixers struggled at home and Dallas prevailed even without young star Luka Doncic. The Sixers as a team struggled to shoot going 10/34 from deep and despite Embiid finishing with 33 and 17, the rest of the team looked decidedly awful. Dallas is a similarly young team with a 22-12 record (Sixers have a 23-13 record) who have shown flashes of greatness but with the inexperience and game closure woes that young teams commonly face. We know this all too well.
This is a game that’s a must win. If the Sixers want to be looked at as contenders, they can’t be getting swept in season series against fairly even opposing teams. Plus anytime you have the ability to watch Luka Doncic live, you’ve gotta tune in.
January 13th @ Indiana
Indiana evened the season series at 1-1 on Tuesday night and will certainly look to steal another win at home. It’s highly unlikely that Victor Oladipo will be available to play in this game due to a rupture in his right quad. Still, the Oladipo-less Pacers were able to dominate the Sixers last go around, so what’s stopping them from doing that again? Indiana is a realistic 1st Round playoff match-up as either a 3 and 6 or 4 and 5 seed tilt. Winning this game would be a huge bolster to securing a possible tiebreaker and having home court in a 7 game series. Home court has proven crucial for the Sixers, who are 16-2 at home while 7-11 on the road.
January 22nd @ Toronto
Another re-match of last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinals. No one can forget that shot, at least I still can’t. In their last meeting, the Sixers prevailed at home behind Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle dropping 26 and 20 respectively. Toronto has been in a slump lately, losing 4 of 6 but it’s uncertain if they’ll still be struggling by the time we face them in 2.5 weeks. They have been without Norman Powell and Marc Gasol through that stretch so there’s a chance we can catch them at a bad time. This is another important tie-breaker game that the Sixers need to win in order to benefit down the road.
January 25th vs. Los Angeles Lakers
The January 25th showdown will be the second weekend of the NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC. The Sixers will appear 4 separate times over the 9-week series including 3 road games in Milwaukee, Boston, and Golden State. After a somber season in LeBron’s first year on the West Coast, the Lakers with several new additions headlined by Anthony Davis have taken over the Western Conference. The Lakers have shooters and playmakers all-around LeBron. They are going to spread the floor and shoot at will, which could prove to be a problem for the Sixers. They’ve struggled off the bench to produce and still don’t have a proven backup point guard.
This is a game where the championship mettle of the Sixers will be tested.