There weren’t many positives to take away from the Philadelphia 76ers 106-104 loss to the Utah Jazz Wednesday night. Al Horford, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid all struggled offensively shooting a combined 12-of-41 from the field.
Their shooting woes continue to be an issue as the team shot 41.3 percent from the field, including 32 percent on three-point shots. To make matters worse Ben Simmons left the game in the second quarter with a Grade-1 AC joint sprain in his right shoulder.
Good news is if you’re an optimist looking for positives to take from their second straight loss, look no further than Raul Neto.
The backup Brett Brown needs
Unlike in past seasons, the Sixers may have a backup point guard Brett Brown can use in all situations. No disrespect to former Sixer TJ McConnell but his lack of perimeter shooting made it hard for him and Simmons to be on the court at the same time.
Neto is a good fit for the Sixers since they need more players capable of ball-handling and spacing.
Since making his season debut against the Portland Trail Blazers last week, Neto has stepped up and has made a positive impact off the bench. His services were needed even more against the Jazz when Simmons left in the second quarter and never returned.
Neto performed fine during his season high 30 minutes, playing aggressive defense while creating some with the ball on offense.
Neto didn’t have his best offensive game Wednesday night but had some good moments. He drove to the basket several times and his ability to dribble and space the floor isn’t something this team has a lot of on the roster.
On defense, he pressured the opponent’s primary ball handler into making mistakes. He finished the game with three steals.
Finding a balance
Neto’s solid play is dictating a larger role off the bench, regardless of any injuries to the starting lineup.
If everyone’s healthy, he shouldn’t be getting near 30 minutes like he did against the Jazz. But at the same time, he can’t be a bench warmer like he was for the team’s first five games.
Brown needs to find a balance between the two for utilize Neto’s skillset effectively. He’ll get the chance to continue his strong start against the Denver Nuggets with Simmons already being ruled out for the game.
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