Photo courtesy of USA Today
By: Glen Ivol
Joel Embiid made the 1,045th bold statement of his young career: “I think our time is now… We have a special team, a lot of great guys. I don’t think we need anybody else.” The funny part though? Embiid is right, their time is right now. The naysayers will roll their eyes, but that’s their decision. Many thought he was crazy when he claimed they would win 50 games, except how did that turn out? They won 16 straight games to end the season with 52 wins. Doubt this team if you will, but that feels pointless at this stage. Masked Embiid and company dispatched the Miami Heat in 5 games, and with so much still left to figure out – their ceiling is limitless. What we do know about this team is that they are actually this good. If you watched the Miami series, you saw a team that is well-coached, physical, intelligent, and above all else, led by two of the brightest stars in this sport.
This leads me to my next point: Ben Simmons. Is there anything more beautiful than watching Simmons take over and make his mark on a game? No. Ben Simmons makes you feel confident is this team. Whether they’re up double digits or down double digits, his presence is there to know the lead is safe or they’re not done yet. Allen Iverson was the last true icon the Sixers had, but Simmons is my first. His takeover in the Miami series when everyone said playoff basketball would wear him down was everything I needed to know. Simmons has exploded onto the scene and is here to stay.
In the second round the Sixers will face an injury-plagued Celtics team or wildly inconsistent Bucks team. Dispatching either of them leads to a match up with one of four teams: Toronto, Cleveland, Indiana, or Washington for a chance to go to the NBA Finals. None of those six teams can confidently be called a lock to beat the Sixers four times in a seven-game series. The Sixers are no longer the joke of the NBA, they are here now and deserve some credit for their progress.
Who would have thought? Two young kids surrounded by veteran marksmen, Europeans, 3-and-D wings, and role players have crashed the Eastern Conference’s party. I guess sometimes you just have to trust the process.
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