Since a 133-126 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on March 2, the Philadelphia 76ers had been on an eight-game win streak.
But Monday night against the Bulls, it came to an end in a long, defensive game with two overtimes.
Monday was certainly a winnable game for the 76ers, and they made too many mistakes. Here are three takeaways from the loss.
Things Fall Apart Without Embiid
In an overall sloppy game where shots weren’t falling for either team, Joel Embiid was one of the only reliable players.
Notching his tenth straight 30+ point game, while also adding in 16 rebounds and three blocks, Embiid had his usual dominant night on both ends of the floor. But because he was the only player who could consistently score and play defense, the team fell apart when he fouled out in double overtime.
All things considered, that should only strengthen his MVP case. He kept Philadelphia in the game for regulation and the first overtime, and they were up by two when he fouled out. The Bulls went on a 10-4 run the rest of the game.
The 76ers need Embiid on the floor to be one of the best teams in the league, which isn’t much of a secret. But when he can’t play, others need to step up, especially defensively, to replace his rim protection.
Monday’s game was the first loss Embiid has had against the Bulls in his career, making him 12-1 against Chicago.
It’s pretty fair to say that James Harden had his worst game as a 76er on Monday.
He did contribute 12 assists, but Harden shot 2-14 from the field, 0-6 from three, only got to the line for one shot and had five turnovers. Every time the 76ers needed him, he just wasn’t there.
It was a shock to see Harden play that badly offensively, as he’s been outstanding the last few weeks as both a playmaker and scorer. For now, this game seems like a fluke that he will bounce back from.
However, Doc Rivers said after the game that Harden was dealing with foot soreness, so it could be something to keep an eye on.
Had they gotten a normal offensive output from Harden against the Bulls, the 76ers might be on a nine-game win streak.
Melton Has A Big Night
One of the few bright spots against the Bulls was De’Anthony Melton, who had 39 minutes off the bench.
Melton went for 19 points on five threes while also being a spark defensively with his four steals and six rebounds.
The ability to step up when the team needs him has been a huge development for Melton. While his role is limited in most games, Monday was a perfect example of how he can help the team when others are struggling.
Melton will undoubtedly be a big glue piece off the bench over the next few weeks and into the playoffs. It wouldn’t be surprising if the 76ers try to extend him this offseason, as he has helped bring the team together a lot more.
Featured photo courtesy of Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
You can “Like” The Game Haus on Facebook and “Follow” us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Daniel!
“From Our Haus to Yours“