As one door closes, another one opens. The NBA playoffs are nearly upon us and would you believe it? The Philadelphia 76ers are about to make some noise. But just how far can they go? Our Sixers tandem examines that and much more in this week’s roundtable.
Do you think Joel Embiid will return in time for the 1st game of the playoffs?
Yamil: Absolutely. Joel Embiid is a fighter. After all he’s been through, you can bet your bottom dollar that he will be there at tip off for the opening game. He has too much pride and character to not be a part of his team’s success in the postseason. Of course, you would never want to rush him back into action but if the doctors clear him and he feels well, then he’ll be there.
Tim: Embiid has already stated that he plans on being backfor the first game. I’m sure that a mask will be best, but I think that there’s only one thing that’s going to keep him from playing in the game. It’s a concussion. He was placed in the leagues protocol after taking that hit and being examined the following day. I’m sure, by that time, he’ll be fine as he’s been cheering the team on from the sidelines lately. I don’t really see any issues with him playing, other than getting used to having to wear a mask, but I’d look to see him practice next week with it, to get used to it.
Can the 76ers make the Eastern Conference Finals?
Yamil: I’ve heard this hyped up in the media lately. I love the 76ers but I don’t know if they have the firepower to get past some other teams. The Raptors and Cavaliers have a roster composed of players that have plenty of playoff experience. The 76ers are young and inexperienced in such high stake stages. As talented as Simmons and Embiid are, I’m just unsure as to whether they can dethrone The King or exterminate the Raptors. With that being said, they are scrappy and they play their hearts out. They are a very good defensive team and when they get going offensively, they get going offensively. The 76ers have nothing to lose and that is what the other teams in the playoffs should worry about.
Tim: Absolutely, they can make the ECF. They really have a good chance of making it there as it looks right now. If they play the Heat, they should be able to win that series. It won’t be a sweep, but only losing one game to the Heat is a possibility. It would be interesting after that. If the standings hold up and the top seeds all win, then the Sixers would be playing the Celtics after the Heat. That would be a dream. The Celtics are without a few players and their two best in Irving and Hayward. So, beating the Celtics isn’t really looking to be an issue either. The Sixers are a much better team and they’re playing with house money right now. They’re not supposed to be a fifty wins and in third place in their division this year. A 42-40 year was something that fans would have been more than happy with. Now, we’re looking at them maybe being in the ECF or even the NBA Finals. If they get those two match-ups and win, the ECF would be against Cleveland or Toronto. They have a much better chance against Toronto as the Cavs are hot and they’re getting all their players healthy again. It will be very interesting to see, but they could realistically make the NBA Finals. Right now, a first round victory would be amazing, but I think they get to the ECF.
What are your thoughts on the Delaware 87ers, the Philadelphia 76ers G-League affiliate, being revamped and becoming the Delaware Blue Coats?
Yamil: I love it! I’m really glad that Elton Brand, former Sixer and current GM of the Blue Coats, decided to take this route. Taking a chunk of Philadelphia history and implementing it into the remodeling of the team is brilliant. It really shows how much pride the 76ers organization takes in Philadelphia’s rich past. The G-League has always been a big part of the NBA and a revamped Blue Coats team will certainly help the 76ers to continue finding those hidden gems.
Tim: I’m not sold on the Blue Coats just yet. I like the idea of rebranding the team, but if you look at their roster, there’s not a lot of talent there. I’d like to see the Sixers take some of their stashed players and young guys and flood the team with them next year. Get them actual experience and used to playing in the USA. Use it to have a close look at your prospects because right now, everyone is all over the place. It could be very good for the team, but I’ll hold off until I see how they approach this next season or if it’s just a nice marketing job.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports