Don’t look now, but the 76ers are the hottest team in basketball. Led by the presumed Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons and All-World center Joel Embiid, the 76ers are peaking at the right time and look like a force to be reckoned with. Who would’ve guessed that one of the youngest, most inexperienced teams in the NBA would be considered a threat in the Eastern Conference this early? For the Sixers this is the perfect scenario, players are buying into Coach Brett Browns motion heavy offense and they are playing some of the best defense in the NBA.
The only real issue is that in the Playoffs experience tends to matter.
The Sixers however, are a match-up nightmare for every single team in the Eastern Conference. Embiid matches up well with anyone, he is incredibly smooth and is a threat to score from anywhere on the court He’s a top twenty player when healthy and will return in time for the playoffs. A healthy Embiid gives them a chance against every team in the East. Ben Simmons is one of the most dynamic players in the league and its only his first year playing. Defenses can pack the paint all they want, there is no stopping Simmons when he has a full head of steam. He is a gifted passer, good defender, and an excellent finisher. With Embiid currently out, he has been the driving force behind the Sixers current run.
If the Sixers can sustain their hot shooting and disciplined defense, they can overcome youth and inexperience. Their only real obstacle will be the Cavaliers, led by LeBron James. It’s one thing to beat the Cavs in the regular season, it’s another when it comes to a seven game series. Playoff LeBron is terrifying, no one should be surprised if he averages a high triple double as he is a transcendent talent. This iteration of the Cavs is not as talented as years past, but that won’t matter because LeBron has more than enough left in the tank to carry his team to the Eastern Conference Finals. If the Sixers and Cavs do meet it will be an exciting and intense series. Ben Simmons looks to be the heir apparent, but don’t be surprised if LeBron isn’t ready to give up his crown.
The depth of the Sixers shooting coupled with their great defense will give the Cavaliers fits. They have the collective length to cut off passing lanes and they will make life difficult for shooters on the perimeter. Recently, the Sixers have been one of the most disciplined defensive teams and their shooting is peaking at the right time. It is not guaranteed that they will make the Finals, but don’t be surprised. The Celtics are injured and depleted, the Wizards are wildly inconsistent, the Bucks are disappointing, and the Cavs outside of LeBron are a mixed bag. This could very well be the year where youth prevails. The Sixers fear no one and there are relatively low expectations on every team outside of the Cavs, so the Sixers have the advantage of playing with house money.
That’s a dangerous way of thinking when you have all that talent and zero fear of the competition.
This is warning to the NBA, the Sixers are coming.