For a team that lost by just a point in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last year, there are more questions than answers surrounding this group. Jimmy Butler seemingly couldn’t wait to move on. They gave huge contracts to Tobias Harris and Al Horford. And their two best players can’t seem to stay on the court while questions swirl around whether or not they are the best complements for each other.
But their starting lineup is huge and with Ben Simmons and his 2.1 steals per game hounding the other team’s backcourt, they’re a top ten defensive team. The rebound the ball really well with all of their size and defend the three-point arc better than anyone.
The trouble comes on the offensive end. Simmons and Embiid don’t always have the best chemistry in a pick and roll situation but Simmons himself can get to the rim whenever he wants. His struggles from the perimeter are well-documented and in a playoff series, good coaches should figure out a way to plug up the inside enough to slow him down.
They’re a middle-of-the-road three-point shooting team with Shake Milton coming off the bench most of the year to lead them in this category. They have a handful of guys who are decent from out there including Embiid, Harris and Horford but none are outstanding. If you get up big against them, I’m not sure they have the firepower to get back into a game and in a close game, they’re gonna struggle to match a team score for score down the stretch.
They enter Orlando tied with the Pacers and just two games back of the Heat for the 4th seed. The schedule is very favorable with games against the Spurs, Wizards, Magic and Suns. They open with a matchup against the Pacers. A win there would put them in great shape to at least move up one spot and at that point, because home court is not a factor in the bubble, it would assure they would face the Heat in round one. They’re 1-3 against the Heat and just 1-2 against the Bucks who very likely would loom in round 2. But barring an injury, this is the most likely outcome for the Sixers.
A failure this postseason, weird season or not, may cost Brett Brown his job and possibly lead to some major off season trades. I say trades, because their money is tied up to 11 players next season to the tune of $147M, well above this year’s cap, let alone next year’s likely reduced cap. Before the season was suspended, things were looking very grim with the Simmons injury but now he’s healthy and if the Sixers can live up to their potential they could take advantage of this situation to start to fulfill the promise of the Process.