Whenever the new year rolls around the first thing that people want to do is set a new years resolution. Have an upgraded version of themselves, try something new, and most certainly change bad habits. The 76ers January was a step in the right direction towards being a better version of themselves. They have started out the new year with a winning record of 11-4 over the last 15 games.
Have they won some games that they shouldn’t have? Yes. Have they lost some games that they shouldn’t have? Yes. The team is in a solid position right now being a top 4 seed in the East and 3.5 games in the division. For the rest of this I’m going to hand out a few awards that the team was able to win over the last 31 days.
Best Win- Indiana Pacers (120-96)
This was a huge victory for the ball club. Beating a team that has been taking strides forward in the standings is always a big-time win, but now this puts the 76ers ahead in the standings. Also having it come on the road is extremely big for this team. Typically they play better at home, but this was a great step in the winning direction.
Best Loss- Oklahoma City Thunder (115-117)
This game is one that is going to sting big time. Clawing back to make it a game late in the fourth and running an outstanding hustle full-court trap to take the lead with a few seconds to go is how you draw it up. But having an MVP in Paul George come down and drain a 3…and 1… is nothing to hang your head about. OKC is a great team. Winning this one at home would have been a statement win, but as I always say, you don’t want to play your best ball in January.
MVP- Joel Embiid
Joel has had a monster season this year. He is clearly the most skilled big man in the game and it isn’t even close. Embiid has lead the 76ers in scoring 10 times this month (same # of wins), and lead the team in rebounds 8 times. He is the engine of this team. When he’s smiling, pumping up the crowd, and able to get in a groove it is a scary time. Simmons was a close second with his ability to pass the ball and rebound, but this league is going to come down to knocking down shots and Embiid has been doing that all month long.
Worst Win- Phoenix Suns (132-127)
This was an UGLY win. A win is a win, but this my friends was disgusting. To be up 30 points multiple times throughout the game, and to almost lose is not what you want. Yes it was a road game and yes it was coming off a game the night before, but a team with the talent like the 76ers should win a game like this by 15-17 points.
Worst Loss- Atlanta Hawks (121-123)
The hawks…..the freaking hawks. Are you kidding me? At HOME?! This shouldn’t have even been a game. Now go figure that Joel didn’t play and he is a game-changing players, but to be at home vs a young and starless hawks team still needs to be a win. No excuses.
Best of the Rest
January was still a truly productive month. A few big wins over the Warriors, Rockets, both Los Angeles teams and the always tough Spurs look great. Losing to the Wizards after they beat them soundly the night before, losing to a very talented Denver team and. Overall this month was a clear Improvement putting the team at 34-18.
It is extremely promising seeing this team be able to go to the west coast and win the big time games. It is a great measuring stick to see where they stack up in the rest of the league. With the all-star break coming up, this would be a perfect time to carry this momentum and win a few games to close the gap on the Bucks for first place.
February’s schedule has 10 games in it with a tough looking road ahead. Philadelphia should be able to beat the Kings, Knicks, Heat, Portland, and New Orleans. That’s expected losses I see are going to be Toronto and Denver. Both games are at home which helps, but both teams are tough match-ups and play tremendous defense. The remaining 3 games are going to be toss-ups. At OKC will be a challenge, but win-able. Home vs Boston is going to have a playoff atmosphere to it and the Lakers will be a toss-up, depending if #23 suits up for them.
This team can go 6-4 in February and it will be considered a big-time success. Take care of the teams you’re supposed to, Steal a road game vs a tough team, and it will all work out.
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports