Charles Barkley: Philadelphia 76ers are Cleveland Browns of NBA

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Friday, February 7, 2020
FILE: Charles Barkley arrives at the NBA Awards on Monday, June 24, 2019, at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif.

Sir Charles had some choice words about the Philadelphia 76ers prior to the team's nationally televised game against the Milwaukee Bucks Thursday night.

"Let me just go ahead and vent now. You know I picked the 76ers to get into the Finals. I think they are the softest, mentally weakest team that had a bunch of talent," Barkley began.

The former 76ers star continued, "They are the Cleveland Browns of the NBA."

Barkley went on to explain his comparison: "They got a lot of talent and they talk the talk, and that's it. Last summer - and I fell for it, too, because of one of our guys, one of our bosses is Steve Fiorello - he had me on the Cleveland Browns bandwagon. Cause they came out telling everybody how good they are going to be and they got punched in the mouth in game one and got punched for the rest of the season. The Philadelphia 76ers, my preseason pick to get to the Finals, they just talk."

The Cleveland Browns fell to the Tennessee Titans 43-13 in Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season. They went on to have a 6-10 record.

Charles Barkley's comments followed those by Ben Simmons calling the 76ers "soft" and Joel Embiid citing the team's spacing issues.

Philadelphia suffered its fourth consecutive road loss Thursday night in Milwaukee.

"I think it puts a lot of things in perspective," forward Al Horford said. "And desperation. We lost four in a row now. It's like finding ourselves. Trying to figure it out. I think good is going to come out of this."

But while the Sixers were trying to sort things out, the Bucks came to play. This game had been circled on their calendar since a 121-109 loss on Christmas Day in Philadelphia.

On Thursday, Milwaukee struck first, then struck again, and while the game remained close early on, the Bucks got the final say, defeating the 76ers 112-101.

The Bucks extended their lead over the rest of the Eastern Conference to seven games. Meanwhile, the Sixers' road woes have contributed to a 9-19 record away from home, which puts them at sixth in road victories in the Eastern Conference.

It was a tight game at the half, with Milwaukee hanging on to a three-point lead. Embiid struggled offensively in the first half, scoring just four points. Things didn't improve much for him in the second half. He finished with 19 points on 6-of-26 shooting.

With just over seven minutes left in the third quarter, the Bucks were able to create separation and build a 13-point lead. They maintained a double-digit advantage heading into the final quarter, but the Sixers closed the gap to single digits just three minutes into the fourth.

After the game, Embiid said that his left hand -- on which he still wears a protective wrap during games -- did bother him. Still, he wouldn't attribute his spotty shooting night to any physical discomfort. Instead, Embiid said he needs to adjust his mental state and get back to enjoying the game.

"I'm trying to get back to the fun Joel," Embiid said. "Smile a little more. The whole season I told myself I was going to be serious. I felt like everyone looked at [me] in a way that I'm moody or I might not care. I do. I want to win. But at the same time I try to have a different attitude. Obviously, it hasn't been working. Gotta go back to that fun Joel, fun personality. [But] still locked in. Try to help us any way I can."

Sixers coach Brett Brown and several of Philadelphia's players said that while it was another loss, this one felt a little different. Unlike some previous defeats, forward Tobias Harris said he thought the team played with more effort against Milwaukee and that shots just weren't falling. But like Horford, he vowed that Philadelphia would come out of this slump a more connected bunch.

"You do find out a lot about culture when you go through ups and downs," Harris said. "It's how you get through it. I believe this team is a great team and a team that is destined for excellence. We hold ourselves to that standard. We'll continue to push each other and be ready for the next one."


ESPN's Malika Andrews contributed to this report.