Doc Rivers, Sixers discuss where they missed Joel Embiid in loss to Bulls

PHILADELPHIA–The Philadelphia 76ers had won three in a row entering their contest with the Chicago Bulls on Friday night. They had just won their previous one without superstar big man Joel Embiid and they were feeling confident about the direction they were rolling in.

It all came crashing down in a 126-112 loss to the Bulls on Friday. The main story was Zach LaVine as he had 41 points and he drilled 11 of his 13 3-pointers on the night. The Sixers kept losing him in transition and that was a huge factor in why they lost.

However, another one was missing Embiid. The Bulls have two skilled big men in Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond who use their size to their advantage and Philadelphia had trouble with both of them. Chicago won the rebounding battle 45-38 and Vucevic had 19, 18 rebounds, and 10 assists.

“You miss him all over the floor, but honestly, I don’t worry about it because he wasn’t in the game,” said coach Doc Rivers. “Obviously, with Joel, we’re a different team, but we didn’t have him so we have to find a way to win that game tonight without guys. That’s what I tell our guys every night. No ‘who we could’ve had’. We didn’t win the game.”

Rivers is right. Nobody’s going to care that the Sixers didn’t have Embiid on the night. That is where guys like PJ Tucker have to step up and provide more on the offensive end, but they were just unable to do so on the night.

“We played a winnable game,” added De’Anthony Melton. “We’re always gonna miss the big fella, no matter what, but we felt like we could have won this game. We let a couple guys get loose, but we’ll be solid. We’ve won games with Tuck at the 5 and we won games with Jo at the 5. So we just got to keep fighting and keep competing.”

The Sixers held a 13-point lead early as they were playing with the style that Rivers wants them to play at. Philadelphia was pushing the pace led by James Harden and Tyrese Maxey, but they were just unable to sustain it without Embiid on the floor.

“Give them credit,” Rivers added. “They shot the heck out of the ball. They were shooting 62% at halftime, we got it down to 57%. It’s hard to win a game that way when they’re short-handed and they’re shooting that well. I thought a lot of that was they beat us off the dribble a lot. Got to the paint and sucked us in. I thought that’s how we played in the first quarter. I thought that’s how they played in the second, third, and fourth quarter.”

The Sixers will look to bounce back on Sunday when they hit the road to take on the Detroit Pistons.

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Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire