Nick Nurse details keys to fixing 76ers’ Joel Embiid-less offense

Nick Nurse is emphasizing the need for organization in the Philadelphia 76ers’ offense, especially with Joel Embiid sidelined due to a meniscus procedure. Following a disappointing loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, where the Sixers managed only 48 points in the first half, Nurse stressed the importance of structured and cohesive offensive play. Despite Tyrese Maxey’s notable performances under pressure, the team’s offensive rating has been lacking during Embiid’s absence, currently ranking 23rd in the NBA.

While the recent additions of Buddy Hield and Kyle Lowry, along with the return of key players like Nico Batum and De’Anthony Melton from injuries, are expected to bolster the team’s performance, Nurse acknowledges the challenges of making the Sixers a formidable threat without Embiid.


The defensive aspect is also a concern in Embiid’s absence, with the 76ers posting a defensive rating of 120.0, ranking only better than the Utah Jazz and New York Knicks in a similar timeframe. Nurse highlighted the urgency to improve the team’s record, especially since Embiid’s last game.

Nurse emphasized the importance of balance in running on- and off-script offense, acknowledging the disorganization in the absence of Embiid. He highlighted the need for structure while also being able to adapt to uncertainties on the court. Nurse has various offensive sets for players like Maxey and Hield but recognizes the importance of operating with both structure and flexibility.

To address offensive concerns, Nurse wants the Sixers to play with more pace. Despite currently ranking 18th in pace since Embiid’s last game, Nurse believes that improving defensive stops will enable the team to run more effectively. Organizing the offense starts with rebounding and filling lanes in fast breaks, requiring practice and player familiarity.

Nurse is focusing on conditioning and player rotation to maximize the team’s energy for fast breaks. With depth at various positions, he believes they can plug in players who can run hard and defend effectively. As the Sixers aim to secure a spot in the play-in tournament, Nurse acknowledges the need for creativity and strategic decisions in both player selection and sideline orchestration.


Beyond Tyrese Maxey and Kyle Lowry, the Philadelphia 76ers recognize the need for other key players to contribute to the team’s execution on the court. Tobias Harris is urged to lift himself out of his current performance slump, while Paul Reed, stepping into Joel Embiid’s role, sees this opportunity as a chance to enhance his game and build chemistry with teammates. Even if not explicitly used as a passer, Reed aims to play a playmaking role in various aspects to contribute to the team’s success.

Reed expresses gratitude for the chance to grow as both a player and a leader during this period, emphasizing the importance of understanding his role for the team’s success, especially with the playoffs approaching. He sees the opportunity to learn how to support his teammates strategically, whether through setting screens or facilitating plays that suit their strengths.

Nico Batum, recognized as the team’s astute passer, emphasizes the need to avoid becoming a one-pass-shot team. He acknowledges that the team cannot solely rely on Maxey to score consistently and highlights the importance of involving everyone and moving the ball effectively to challenge opposing defenses.

Maxey’s role is pivotal in drawing multiple defenders towards him, and the Sixers need to capitalize on this by involving other players strategically. The team has previously struggled when Maxey faced defensive pressure, and Batum stresses the importance of finding ways to exploit defensive vulnerabilities through effective ball movement.

Acknowledging the uncertain future for the 76ers, the team is urged to navigate the challenges ahead with unity and collective effort. The analogy of having every hand on deck emphasizes the need for each player to contribute and collaborate to guide the team through uncertain waters and aim for success.

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