The Philadelphia 76ers have been playing well this season. It’s as simple as that.
The Sixers have much more depth than they did last season. With the acquisitions of Josh Richardson, Al Horford, and Trey Burke, the squad seems to be forming nicely. Despite the constant rumblings of fans wanting to trade Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid, or perhaps fire Brett Brown, they are still a playoff team. Philadelphia is only three games out of the two seed, despite sitting at the five.
However, there seems to be one pattern in their play this season. They rattled off 14 straight home wins to start the season, and stand firm with an 18-2 record at Wells Fargo Center. This results in their lackluster 7-12 record away from Philadelphia.
But, this is not the real issue at hand. Philly has played the eighth toughest schedule so far, and their away record has been the third toughest. Thus, their road record should balance out.
So Philadelphia Sixers’ fans need to worry about one thing:
The Sixers showcase a great 25-14 record so far. Yes, 12 of those losses are on the road, but again, third toughest road record.
It’s where those wins and losses come though, that is the cause for concern.
To start the season:
Five straight dominant wins. Philadelphia was averaging 115 points per game, while only allowing 106 points to their counterparts. The path to the Eastern Conference Finals was in their control, right?
Philadelphia slumped into three straight losses to the Suns, Jazz, and Nuggets. Only scoring an average of 103.33 points, while allowing 106.33 made their trip out west a dismal one. Time to trade the team away and fire the entire front office and coaching staff.
What came for the next 19 games was promising, as they rattled off strings of wins before a single loss:
|Charlotte Hornets||W||114||106||6||3||W 1|
|Cleveland Cavaliers||W||98||97||7||3||W 2|
|Orlando Magic||L||97||112||7||4||L 1|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||L||119||127||7||5||L 2|
|Cleveland Cavaliers||W||114||95||8||5||W 1|
|New York Knicks||W||109||104||9||5||W 2|
|San Antonio Spurs||W||115||104||10||5||W 3|
|Miami Heat||W||113||86||11||5||W 4|
|Toronto Raptors||L||96||101||11||6||L 1|
|Sacramento Kings||W||97||91||12||6||W 1|
|New York Knicks||W||101||95||13||6||W 2|
|Indiana Pacers||W||119||116||14||6||W 3|
|Utah Jazz||W||103||94||15||6||W 4|
|Washington Wizards||L||113||119||15||7||L 1|
|Cleveland Cavaliers||W||141||94||16||7||W 1|
|Toronto Raptors||W||110||104||17||7||W 2|
|Denver Nuggets||W||97||92||18||7||W 3|
|Boston Celtics||W||115||109||19||7||W 4|
|New Orleans Pelicans||W||116||109||20||7||W 5|
Not too shabby, right?
15 wins in a 19 game span, with five straight. Now, it was time to bring the entire team and coaching staff back. Time to raise the banner in Philadelphia already. A team lacking chemistry was starting to come together.
Wrong, again. Philadelphia lost three straight, including two to inferior opponents. Which, of course, was followed up by three straight wins. Then, four straight losses on the road. Followed by none other than another winning streak in the making:
|Brooklyn Nets||L||89||109||20||8||L 1|
|Miami Heat||L||104||108||20||9||L 2|
|Dallas Mavericks||L||98||117||20||10||L 3|
|Washington Wizards||W||125||108||21||10||W 1|
|Detroit Pistons||W||125||109||22||10||W 2|
|Milwaukee Bucks||W||121||109||23||10||W 3|
|Orlando Magic||L||97||98||23||11||L 1|
|Miami Heat||L||116||117||23||12||L 2|
|Indiana Pacers||L||97||115||23||13||L 3|
|Houston Rockets||L||108||118||23||14||L 4|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||W||120||113||24||14||W 1|
|Boston Celtics||W||109||98||25||14||W 2|
Winning games makes a locker room cheery. Obviously, losing games, especially in bunches, makes a locker room far from happy. A theme throughout this season has been the Sixers’ chemistry. Whether it be good or bad, it continues to weigh a toll on their locker room.
After a great win on December 20th over the Knicks, the Sixers sported a 9-5 record and were trending in a positive direction. So, kick in the positive chemistry.
When asked about the chemistry, it was “Definitely,” improving Simmons told ESPN. “The chemistry is much better. Guys are giving up their time to bond,” Ben went on to explain.
However, this apparently went down the drain within a month. As newbie Josh Richardson called it, there was “no accountability” in the locker room. And after an awful road trip, where they were swept out of the west, it sure seemed to be trending that way.
Chemistry is always going to be over analyzed. It’s literally what the premise of this subheading was, an interpretation of someone who is conducting opinions from hearsay. If these rumors are true, though, the constant flux of this newly player-filled locker room could leave some cause for concern.
The Long Run
There is something everyone in the entire NBA knows:
The Philadelphia Sixers are a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference.
Their place in the standings may not show it on paper, but they only trail the second-seeded Miami Heat by a mere three games. The thing that scares fans, in the long run, is the inconsistency of this team. Sure, they win almost every game at home, but away from Philly, they have to scrap a win together.
Seeding will play a huge factor in the Sixers’ playoff run. It could be the difference between having to play a tougher team, such as the Heat or Raptors, or having to play the Magic or Nets.
This team is built for the playoffs, however, control their own destiny. Championships are built through the regular season, and the Sixers must find their wavelength sooner than later. Stop playing down to lighter opponents, and find ways to win on the road.
So please, Sixers, use your easier second half schedule to start getting into a regular groove.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports