The story is the same, but the Sixers want the ending to be different. In these is one of the most fit teams in the NBA, trying to change that early elimination that they have suffered in recent seasons, those conference finals that have not stepped on all the famous Process, but to which they have not really reached since 2001. Allen Iverson is already a mere memory, but from him and from the lineage of the past lives a hobby that knows and understands basketball, and therefore is not going to put up with this situation any longer. There is not the one of this precise moment, there is the one lived in the last decade, in the last 20 years even, since that cultural phenomenon of 1.83 made the city of Philadelphia dream of that ring that the franchise has not conquered since 1983, with Julius Erving, Moses Malone and that oh, oh, oh as historical as already, unfortunately, also prehistoric.
The Sixers see the light, but they have already seen it more times in past courses and they have left empty. Are there reasons to trust? That’s what the numbers say, of course: 15 wins in the last 18 games, the fourth best defense in the NBA, and a considerable improvement in many aspects of the game. After all, the Philadelphia team ranks eighth in the competition in field goal percentage, fourth in 3-point percentage, and third in free throw percentage. This is how they solve their problems with rebounding (the third worst in that statistic), as well as with confidence in shooting with good defensive data in steals (seventh) and blocks (tenths). And losing only 14 balls per night, the tenth most prominent in this statistic. And then, with the sixth best net rating of the League and two absolutely generational stars (now we will talk about them)… why do we doubt the Sixers?
Mistakes, horrors and bad luck
Since Embiid arrived in the NBA in 2014 (he did not debut until 2016) the Sixers have been a series of episodes marked by bad luck, but also by the impossibility of rising to the occasion. That Trust the Process became the eternal motto of Sam Hinkie, the man who sponsored him in the offices and who left a Brett Brown on the bench who was the profile of a coach who was not going to mind losing games at large in order to have his opportunity later. Patience became the daily bread of a team that collected huge high rounds of the draft along with disastrous records and he bided his time as Embiid recovered from injuries, Ben Simmons became a special point guard, and the discards of tumultuous years (Michael Carter-Williams, Nerles Noel…) They left in exchanges with which theoretically important reinforcements arrived, but incapable of making the Sixers triumph in practice.
From 2014 to now, for the Eastern finals LeBron’s Cavs, Dwayne Casey’s Raptors, Kawhi Leonard’s, Bucks, Heat, Celtics or even Hawks have passed. And there the Sixers have stayed in the meantime, lost in the firmament, like a star that never shone bright enough to capture the gaze of the earthlings. The missed opportunity of the 2019 semifinals, with that shot from Kawhi on the buzzer that gave the pass to some Canadians eager for a title never won, was the closest. But the decision to renew Tobias Harris for 180 million over five seasons, objectively overpay him and let Jimmy Butler escape along the waykilled future opportunities for a project, the Process, of which only Joel Embiid remains. That with his figure he represents precisely that same concept. Being ultimately his own Process.
After that, the concatenation of misfortunes has not stopped: Doc Rivers has proven to be an incompetent coach and the wasted 3-1 loss to the Hawks in 2021 was just the umpteenth failure of his career. of a man who has all the numbers that supposedly Every great coach should have, but he never makes the decisions that supposedly a great coach should take. The farce around Ben Simmons later exploded and the point guard was finally transferred to the Nets in exchange for James Harden, a movement promoted by a Daryl Morey who came to the offices to replace Elton Brand and who is still in love with the one who was his rock Angular on the Rockets. But the new skid, this time against the Heat and with physical problems for an Embiid who has always had them, he gave a new blow to the apparently normal project… but that he is still alive for a new challenge, which he hopes to face with more luck than all the previous ones.
All or nothing
There are no more errors in the Sixers’ account. Harden left the vices linked to his night outings and worked in the summer to leave behind the hardships of his last playoffs and become like a star again. Embiid, already tanned in a thousand disappointments, he forgot about the cross-statement fight after the elimination against the Heat and went to work. And the combination between the two is paying off: James Harden continues to slow down the game (the Sixers are the eighth slowest team in the competition), but he has 19 double-doubles in 30 games and goes over 21 points and 11 assists per night. And Embiid is being more Embiid than ever: 33.6+9.8, with 4.2 assists, 20 double-doubles out of 34 possible and an extraordinary ability to produce on both sides of the track and that nothing and no one can beat him . An MVP level that he can lose again, like the last two seasons, against Nikola Jokic. And an incredible, generational, monstrous talent… one of those who can lead you to win the ring, if it is possible to win the ring with someone like him. Therein lies the dichotomy, the contradiction. And that’s what it is, in the end, Joel Emiid. A very good man with whom you don’t know if you can win.
This is how things are for the Sixers, a complete team thanks to the almost 21 points per game of Tyrese Maxey (with 39% in triples) who opposes for the All-Star, the more than 16 of an overpaid but useful man like Tobias , the double figures of De’Anthony Melton and Shake Milton and the production of secondaries such as Montrezl Harrell, PJ Tucker, George Niang or Furkan Korkmaz. A team with a lost coach, but who is still there. With two reviled stars, but that are still there. That they are fourth in the East, 27-16, only half a victory away from second place and five from the unreachable Celtics. And that they have had injuries (15 absences from Harden and 11 from Embiid), but not of the gravity of other seasons. If they can stay healthy and at this level… do the Sixers deserve to be talked about? Can they beat the Nets or Bucks in a 7 game series? Are they really candidates for the ring?