Six shots: The Sixers are heading towards the playoffs and are only getting hotter

USATSI_10726919_168382939_lowres

Don’t look now Philadelphia, but your 76ers are sitting at a record of 41-30 and in the fourth seed for the playoffs with eleven games to go. I don’t think anyone could have imagined that at the start of the year. As the playoffs get closer, we’re getting a much better picture of the Sixers team.

ROTY:
Ben Simmons is having a great time getting triple doubles. In his past five games Simmons has had three of them. The other two games he was only a couple rebounds short of one as well. As much as the talk of late has been of Donovan Mitchell and the ROY award, Simmons deserves it. I get that the Jazz have been playing lights out of late, but that also has coincided with the return of Rudy Gobert. Since he’s come back, he’s averaged around 15 points, 11 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. It’s no wonder the team is doing better as Gobert is a beast when he’s healthy and on the floor.

The problem I have with Mitchell is that he continues to chuck it up during games. He’s been a gunner all season, but in the same last five games as Simmons, he’s shot on average 10 more times per game than Ben. That number includes a stunning NINE three-point attempts per game. Looking at Bens stats, he would be averaging about 26 points if he shot as much as Mitchell lately. Big Ben is averaging a triple double over his last five games and that’s not counting the two steals per game he’s been getting an lowering his turnovers.

On a night where he had his triple double against Charlotte, he had zero turnovers against his FIFTEEN, you read that right FIFTEEN, assists. The one thing that I don’t like is that he seems to lack and aggressive scoring drive. Meaning that he’s not trying to get himself a lot of points, but rather make the correct play. It was a knock on LeBron for a long time that he didn’t have a killer instinct, but I see it the same, they’re both looking for the best play. I hope that Simmons gets more aggressive as the Sixers enter the playoffs and starts taking over games. His jump shot isn’t something that he’s used, but he’s not going to be able to just drive to the basket as easy in the playoffs.

 

The Process:
Joel Embiid is out here doing Joel Embiid things. He’s been averaging 24 points, 13.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game over the past five. He’s still only hitting at 31% from three-point land, but according to coach Brett Brown, that’s ok with him. What Joel is going to have to do in the playoffs is get down in the low post and stay there. He does so much damage with points and drawing fouls, that there’s no reason that he should be out shooting threes more than a couple times a game. Brett Brown has talked of giving him a rest as they head down the home stretch towards the playoffs, but Embiid laughed it off and said he wasn’t sitting out any games.

I appreciate the mentality and toughness, but he’s going to learn to be smarter with his body and his physical limitations. You see it throughout the league, where players rest, much to the dismay of the NBA league offices, but it’s a good thing to sit, especially with the playoffs looming and it’s going to be very tough. But, if Joel can continue to play as he has this season, there’s no reason to believe he won’t continue to dominate throughout the playoffs.

 

The Homie:
Dario Saric, short of a couple of bad games against Brooklyn and Charlotte, has been fantastic again at the end of the season. For the year, he’s averaging 15 points and 7 rebounds a game, but the big stat for Saric is that he’s upped his shooting and three-point percentage about thirty points. He’s at 40% on three-pointers this season and just under 46% overall from the field. His shooting and overall play have been a huge help for the Sixers as they’ve made their run towards the playoffs. If he can continue his shooting and overall play throughout the end of the year and playoffs, the Sixers will have a very big piece of their puzzle hitting his stride at the right time.

 

F u l t z:
This is getting tiring, but I still have no idea why Markelle Fultz isn’t on the floor during games. If you look at the Sixers issues, one of the big ones is late game defense. Fultz has amazing athleticism and a large wingspan that disrupts passing lanes. He’s a scorer and can shoot from the outside. These are all positives for the team and he’s healthy enough that he should be on the floor. The whole “taking away minutes from other people” argument is a joke. The players he’d be taking them away from aren’t as good as he is. He would be an addition by being on the court but, limiting some of the minutes of players like Belinelli, Ilyasova and McConnell might just help those guys be more productive on the court as they’re not playing as much and can be fresher while they’re out there.

This is a complete failure by the management of this team and there’s nothing anyone can tell me that will change my mind. The Sixers upper management has been a joke and a mess since they brought in Bryan Colangelo and it’s not getting any better. They never give a clear answer regarding any situation, let alone this one, where it involves the past #1 overall pick in the draft. It’s a disgrace to the team, the city, the fans and most importantly, Markelle Fultz himself. The guy would help the team and will 100% make them better in the playoffs, so put him in.

 

The future:
I’ve looked at a few mock drafts of late and it doesn’t look bad for the Sixers. An interesting one has the Sixers taking Mikal Bridges of Villanova with the 10th pick from LA and then Grayson Allen with the 22nd Looking at these picks, how would they fit in with the Sixers? Allen and Bridges both do a few things and they do them well. They shoot the three well. They also win. Both guys have played in very good systems in college, so there’s a learning that’s happened throughout their college careers. They didn’t just play some games to get in the NBA, like a lot of the ‘one and done’s’ do.

The thing I like about Allen is that he’s got an edge to him. He doesn’t take shit from anyone and people don’t like him much, which makes him perfect for Philly. For the Sixers to get both of these guys in the draft would be a huge boost to the team that’s going to really compete next year. Two quality first round picks that don’t have tons of pressure to come in and play big minutes, on a playoff team, with two superstars? This would really move the process ahead and get the Sixers a big step closer to challenging for a title in the next three years.

Expectation:
At 40 Wins, the Sixers have already exceeded expectations for the year. If they can manage just a few more wins over their last twelve games, they’ll put themselves over .500 for the year and that would be even more amazing, given that the Sixers haven’t been a winning organization in a long time. Colin Cowherd has already paid up on his bet to wear a Sixers jersey if the Sixers won 40 games and there are a few others that made negative comments about the team, in the beginning of the year, that will have to pay up on their wagers over the next few weeks. With twelve games left, the Sixers could realistically win 46-48 games this season. The Process is paying off.

Yamil Rivera and myself are doing a Sixers roundtable each Friday. If there’s anything that you, as the readers, want discussed or have an opinion on, let us know and send us the questions, comments, or topics.

 

[email protected]

 

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

More from our Sister Sites