For years the Philadelphia 76ers were a joke. You couldn’t give away a ticket to one of the their games, but the excellence of young, charismatic center Joel Embiid has changed things for our local basketball team.
Last night the Sixers behind a strong game by Embiid beat the Toronto Raptors, the team with the second best record in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. The game was played at the Wells Fargo Center in front of more than 17,000 fans and the final score was 94-89 in favor of the Sixers. The young center led the team in scoring with 26 points, nine rebounds, two blocks, two assists and the team’s final four points on four free throws.
The importance of Embiid to the Sixers can be seen clearly by the following STAT from ESPN, “The big man played 27 minutes Wednesday, and the Sixers outscored the Raptors by 20 points in that time. In the 21 minutes he was on the bench, the Sixers were outscored by 15 points.”
Embiid, who before this season hadn’t played in two years because of a foot injury, is capable of doing nearly anything on the floor. He can dominate as a rebounder, shot blocker, scorer on the block, and outside three-point shooter. As you can see by the full house at the game, Embiid has gotten the attention of sports fans in the Philadelphia area and his rivals around the NBA.
This was the tenth game in a row in which Embiid has scored at least 20 points. That accomplishment is one game away from tying a Sixers record set by Allen Iverson in his rookie season. During his rookie year, Iverson scored more than twenty points in (11) straight games.
He’s an athletic big man at 7’2″ and 270 pounds with the soft touch of a shooter, but the big, physical body of a dominating center to pound down inside. Embiid is a young Superstar who is just getting started and he has his teammates excited about what lies ahead up the road. The Sixers had lost their last 14 games to the Raptors before last night.
The Sixers have now won seven of their last nine games. Last week, Embiid had the boldness to mention playoffs as a goal for the Sixers, who now find themselves sporting a 14-26 record. They are 5 1/2 games out of a playoff spot, but with Embiid there’s no telling what this team can do now.
“Trust the Process”, the phrase used by former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie to validate his plan to lose games on purpose, get the worse record in the NBA, so that the team can stockpile top draft picks has worked. I didn’t like it when they were doing it and I think it’s against the spirit of the game, but there’s no question that the Sixers are now a franchise on the rise.
You can’t argue against the fact that this team has outstanding young talent. The NBA’s top draft pick this year Ben Simmons was on the Sixers bench in street clothes as he recovers from a foot surgery after breaking his foot before the season. He’s expected to be ready soon and who knows what could happen if Simmons and Embiid start developing a chemistry.
Do you think the Sixers could make the playoffs this year? If not this year, then when.