The Philadelphia 76ers have been one of the most talked about teams in basketball for a couple years now. Even dating back to the Sam Hinkie days and “the process”. Now the Sixers sit tied for fifth place in the eastern conference with the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers are going to be very undermanned in the bubble so it’s fair to assume the Sixers will at least earn that fifth seed, which would most likely result in a first round matchup with ex 76er, Jimmy Butler, and the Miami Heat. The Sixers, even being a lower seed in this scenario would still most likely be the favorite to win the series. Philly has more starpower and more notability than Miami does. It is crucial for the future of the Philadelphia 76ers franchise that they at least make it out of the first round.
The past two seasons for the 76ers have ended in second round exits from the playoffs. The Sixers had big expectations coming into this season, that they haven’t exactly lived up to. They certainly were expected to be higher than a 5 seed in the wide open eastern conference. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid haven’t exactly worked together well. They both have had all star numbers for a few years now, but they can’t seem to figure out how to translate that into victories. This is because Simmons is most successful when the lane to the hoop is open, and Embiid does most of his best work directly in the lane. This results in a counter productive offense for Philly. If this team fails to make it out of the first round this season, I’m predicting a break up of Embiid and Simmons this offseason. Along with head coach Brett Brown to be fired. Especially if the loss comes to the hand of the Miami Heat, who acquired their star Jimmy Butler in a sign and trade with Philadelphia this past offseason. This would be a terrible look for the 76ers.
Brett Brown’s job is definitely on thin ice with Philadelphia to begin with. The fan base is neither here nor there on the idea of keeping Brett Brown around. This postseason is a prove it year for Brown and the Sixers. Brown’s newest tweak to the system is playing Ben Simmons at power forward and moving Shake Milton into the starting point guard position. I personally don’t think this will work due to the fact that Ben Simmons is a playmaker. Simmons is best when he can bring the ball up the floor and read the defense to make things happen. Putting him down low at the power forward position limits his abilities on the offensive side of the ball. Also forces Simmons to have a bigger and tougher matchup at both ends of the floor.
The Sixers lack of success hasn’t been because of lack of spending. They currently pay three guys over 25 million dollars a year, in Joel Embiid, Al Horford, and Tobias Harris. Horford is already 34 as he is clearly on the back nine of his career, and when the Sixers missed out on Jimmy Butler, they decided to go ahead and pay overrated small forward Tobias Harris. The Sixers will not have much flexibility with the cap this offseason, if any. The Sixers remind me of the old Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire Suns teams. Very talented, very competitive but never able to get over the hump.
The 76ers are certainly under the NBA microscope in the bubble. If they fail to perform, you can expect big changes in Philadelphia this offseason. This will leave Philly with many questions to answer. New head coach? Should they trade away one of their big players? What to do with aging veteran Al Horford? The Philadelphia 76ers haven’t had this much riding on a postseason in a long time.