Overall, the Sixers have had a pretty great season filled with plenty of great moments. Thursday night’s loss against the Atlanta Hawks was not one of them.
Following the embarrassing defeat, Ben Simmons called the team’s performance “soft” in a post-game chat with the media.
“I just don’t think we’re physical enough. I think defensively, we’re not taking it personal enough when guys score on us. It should be a pride thing when somebody scores; you should be frustrated every time. … I think we have to expect more from each other to get better and get to that next level. ‘Cause I know once playoff time comes, it’s another level.”
When asked if the problem was physicality, Simmons made the real issue clear. “That’s the thing, we were too soft.”
Jimmy Butler, in response, preached a very different message.
“I don’t like the word ‘soft,'” Butler said, and added a whistle. “I just don’t think that we did what we were supposed to do. I’m not gonna say that anybody’s soft. I just think that we got beat in every aspect of the game. They came out from the jump and did what they wanted to do, and they did that for 48 straight minutes.”
“I hope we’re still together,” Butler said. “Nobody pointing fingers at anybody.”
Were they soft? Were they just outplayed? Is their bench just too thin?
Whatever is keeping the Sixers back from being their best, they best figure it out soon. The more games they lose like this (games where they were supposed to win), they’ll find that it will come back to bite them in the playoffs. And in the playoffs, where everything changes, will this Sixer team be ready to answer the call?
My guess is no, at least for right now.