The Philadephia 76ers Roadmap To A Championship

NBA: FEB 06 76ers at Bulls
CHICAGO, IL – FEBRUARY 06: Philadelphia 76ers Forward Tobias Harris (12) dribbles the ball in a action during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Chicago Bulls on February 6, 2022 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire)

The NBA Play-In games begin tonight with the NBA Playoffs to follow starting April 16th. Going into the start of the NBA Playoffs, there are many compelling storylines to follow, non better than the 76ers with a legitimate MVP candidate — Joel Embiid — and James Harden, whom the Sixers acquired through a mid-season blockbuster trade for former 76ers point guard Ben Simmons.

The Harden trade was considered a move that was needed in order to make the Sixers a legitimate title contender this season. The arrival of James Harden completely reshaped the roster of the 76ers, with some key role players leaving Philadelphia in that trade.

Although the first six games of the Embiid, Harden era in Philadelphia was must-see television, it also had its fair share of the highest of highs and lowest of lows. This season the Sixers struggled in a few areas that need to be addressed before the playoffs if this team wants to walk away with the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Playstyle

The 76ers have two of the most dynamic player in the NBA. Joel Embiid is effective from anywhere on the court, and James Harden is great at creating for himself and his teammates. These two stars complement each other perfectly in a pick-and-roll style of offense. The base of the 76ers ‘ offense should start with pick-and-roll action with James Harden and Embiid, which will create lanes and open shots for other teammates.

The pick-and-roll will make it difficult for opposing teams to double Harden or Embiid. Harden is such a great passer this action will create opportunities for open shooters. The pick-and-roll also presents mismatch opportunities if teams elect to switch, Embiid being the ultimate mismatch and Harden being able to score off the dribble proving this style of play to be the most effective for the Sixers.

Spacing and Ball Movement

It’s not hard to see the best version of the Sixers is when the ball s moving from side to side and not sticking. Throughout this year, the 76ers fell victim at times to dumbing the ball into Embiid and standing and watching, making the team very easy to defend. The best games from the 76ers came from great floor spacing and ball movement, leading to high assist games, with everyone having an opportunity to contribute to the win. Philadephia is not the most athletic team in the association, so being a great spacing and passing team will be essential for this team’s playoff success.

The Right Role for Tobias Harris

The Sixers Forward Tobias Harris was the one player who was the most affected by the team’s acquisition of James Harden and struggled early to find his now new role with the team. Harris offensively had the ball in his hands a great deal with many one-on-one and post-up opportunities.

Embiid is already a ball-dominant player, and with Harden here now, this has forced Harris off the ball much more than usual. Harris to become more of a spot-up shooter, which can be a hard pill to swallow when Harris was the second scoring option at the time before the arrival of Harden.

Tobias Harris from three this year shoots 36.7%, this being above league average, but Harris’s game is primarily in the mid-range elbow area of the court. So they reluctantly shoot more threes than usually could be seen as less than ideal by him. In the trade for Harden, the 76ers lost a shooter leaving them desperate for another shooter on the floor. Harris has now stepped into that role knowing the team will need him to fill it.

Lately, Harris has taken more three-point attempts and has been starting to come along in this offense knocking down those three-point shots. Tobias Harris’s mid-range game will be utilized more during the bench rotation minutes, but gaining confidence and taking more three-point shots is needed for a successful playoff run.

Proper Bench Rotations

The 76ers’ bench has not played to its potential this year more times than not being outscored by the opposing team’s bench. The bench has been called upon this year on many occasions to provide a spark or protect leads and far too often has not produced and cost the team games.

This is an issue that will need to be corrected before heading into this year’s playoffs. The coaching staff of the Sixers has decisions to make pertaining to their rotations and who to play outside of George Niang. Veterans DeAndre Jordan, Shake Milton, Furkan Korkmaz, and even second-year players Isiah Joe and Paul Reed will all be in the mix for playoff minutes this year. The players chosen have to be ready to step up and fill those minutes and produce on the court.

Conclusion

The Playoffs are where the games will slow down, with the best teams being able to execute in the half-court. Forcing teams to make quick decisions in the pick-and-roll, creating mismatches and spacing on the floor will make the Sixer’s offensive execution a nightmare for teams to defend. Teammates knowing their roles while consistently making shots when called upon, the team will see much success in the playoffs this year.

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