A coaching change and offseason acquisitions have helped the Philadelphia 76ers become a legit title contender this season. Firing Brett Brown and hiring Doc Rivers has seemed to be a great move so far this season. Doc has been able to get more out of his two star players, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons than Brown has in the past. Before Embiid’s mid season injury he was the leading MVP candidate and Simmons has been competing with Rudy Gobert for Defensive Player of the Year. They also added reliable 3 point shooters like Danny Green and Seth Curry, which is something that they sorely missed last season.
Their offense when healthy is a force to be reckoned with however, that is only one part of the reason why I believe they can make it to the finals. What entices me the most is how good they are defensively. They have 4 players in the top 15 of defensive win shares and they also have Matisse Thybulle who is 30th in defensive win shares and would be much higher up if he were a starter. Their ability to score from everywhere on the court and shut you down on the defensive end is not something that can be overlooked.
The Brooklyn Nets if healthy are their biggest threat, but I still feel confident in the 76ers ability to beat them in the playoffs and represent the East in the finals. Although that might seem like a crazy notion, the Nets defence is a concern. They have absolutely no answers for Joel Embiid. As for the 76ers, I don’t think it’s out the realm of possibility for the 76ers defence to make the Nets uncomfortable and do just enough for them to win the series. We all know how historically great the Nets are on offense but having two players in Simmons and Embiid who are DPOY caliber can go a long way. As for the Milwaukee Bucks, we all understand how great Giannis Antetokounmpo is. Having said that, I just don’t believe Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and the rest of the supporting can do enough to beat the 76ers or Nets in a 7 game series. The 76ers matchup quite well against the Bucks and were even able to push them to overtime when they played them in March without Joel Embiid. Their next matchup will be on Thursday April 22nd which could possibly be a playoff preview.
Some people might be skeptical about the 76ers offence but there should be no doubt. Tobias Harris can score from anywhere on the court and has been averaging 20 points this season. Ben Simmons can orchestrate the offense like very few in the league can. As mentioned before Danny Green and Seth Curry are crucial to the team as they give can spread the floor and give Simmons more room to work with. They can have the same impact that J.J. Redick and Marco Belinelli had on the 76ers in the 2017-18 season.
If Joel Embiid can stay healthy and continue playing at this level along with the rest of the team, I believe they have a great chance of making it to the NBA Finals.
Stats provided by Basketball-Reference.com