Sixers offer hope for Philadelphia sports fan

by Marc Narducci | Jan 27, 2022
Sixers offer hope for Philadelphia sports fan

The Eagles’ flirtation with the postseason was brief and for its loyal fans, painful. The Flyers have already had two different double-figure winless streaks.

The Phillies? Who knows when baseball will end its lockout and even when the sport resumes, are the Phillies able to challenge Atlanta and the New York Mets in the NL East? Could they compete for a wild card spot?

So among the Big 4 sports, the 76ers currently provide the only hope for Philadelphia sports fans who dream of attending another championship parade. 

A month into the season, the thought of the Sixers competing for a title seemed far-fetched, but in an Eastern Conference that is clearly up for grabs and with Joel Embiid playing as well as anybody in the world, anything is possible.

Embiid is a four-time All-Star, soon to be a five-time selection and he basically carried the team in search of a second star, with the season-long absence of Ben Simmons.

Most felt that Simmons’ refusal to play for the Sixers would spell doom, but Embiid has been so effective his stellar play, at this time, has made up for the three-time All-Star’s absence.

There is the feeling that the Sixers need to trade Simmons by the Feb. 10 trade deadline in order to provide some depth for the team.

Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has said if there isn’t a deal to his liking, he won’t move Simmons at the trade deadline, taking this soap opera into the summer.

Regardless, Embiid has made sure the Sixers are competitive and with defending champion Milwaukee and preseason Eastern Conference favorite Brooklyn, showing flaws, the Sixers could match up with the top teams in the East.

That includes teams such as the Miami Heat or the upstart Chicago Bulls.

There probably haven’t been this many Eastern Conference contenders in quite some time.

This is not to suggest that the Sixers are the favorite, but the week began with the top six teams separated by fewer than three games.

Every team, including the Sixers, have flaws, but when Embiid is carrying the team in such dramatic fashion, anything is possible.

The season so far has seen the incredible progress of second-year guard Tyrese Maxey, a gem from Morey’s first draft class, selected 21stoverall after he played one year at Kentucky.

While he will never provide the defensive presence of a Simmons, Maxey is fearless, will take the big shot, without hesitation.

Tobias Harris, who got off to a rough start, part of it caused by missing time due to health and safety protocols and also due to injury, has been coming around lately. 

He likely would be better suited being a third offensive option, but on this team, he has to be No. 2.In the second half of the season, Harris will need to provide more consistency. 

And Seth Curry, has improved in his second season with the Sixers, picking up where he left off in the playoffs. He gives the Sixers the perimeter threat they desperately need.

The Sixers, without a first-team All-Defensive selection like Simmons, have seen their  defensive play suffer.

Last year they finished second in defensive rating.

They began the week 11th in defensive rating, allowing 108.8 points per 100 possessions. 

So whether they trade Simmons or not, the Sixers could use some sort of upgrade at the trade deadline.

Is it realistic for Embiid to stay on this Chamberlain-like pace all season?

Still, the Sixers have the ability to beat anybody in the Eastern Conference (and also the ability to lose to any of the contenders).

After the Eagles crash ending, the Flyers debacle of a season and the uncertainty surrounding the Phillies and Major League Baseball, the Sixers at least give the locals some hope that contention is possible.

Photo Courtesy of 76ers

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Author: Marc Narducci

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