With the NBA formally in its All-Star break — and the Philadelphia 76ers coming off the hardest half of their whole schedule — it looks like nearly as good a time as any to examine in on how the relaxation of the world views the new-look Sixers earlier than shifting all our focus to the stretch run forward of them.
Presently, the Sixers are 37-21, tied with the Celtics for the fourth-best document in the Japanese Convention, and sit only one recreation out of the third spot, which at present belongs to the Pacers (38-20). However after ending that ridiculously robust 12-game stretch that included matchups with the prime groups from each conferences at 7-5, they’ve to love the place they discover themselves at the break, particularly provided that they’re nonetheless working a brand new starter into the lineup, in addition to a number of new rotation gamers who will solely assist make Brett Brown’s group extra harmful down the stretch.
However first, Joel Embiid (Workforce Giannis) and Ben Simmons (Group LeBron) will symbolize the Sixers at the All-Star Recreation in Charlotte this weekend, earlier than the staff prepares for his or her ultimate two dozen video games of the season. We’ll have much more on Embiid and the place the Sixers stack up in comparison with the relaxation of the NBA in a minute, however let’s check out what Kyle Neubeck and our sports activities employees have been saying about the Sixers this previous week…
• Sixers mailbag: Is Brett Brown liable for failings towards Boston Celtics? [Kyle Neubeck]
• Is Sixers’ present beginning 5 their greatest line up of all time? [Evan Macy]
• Joel Embiid’s struggles towards Al Horford proceed to hang-out Sixers towards Celtics [Neubeck]
• Has Elton Model turn into the front-runner for NBA Government of the Yr? [Joe Santoliquito]
Now, as promised, this is the newest take a look at what the relaxation of the native and nationwide media are saying about the Sixers…
The case for Embiid
Tim Bontemps | ESPN.com
It is no secret that LeBron James is at present the face of the NBA — and has been for a while — however there is a good probability that we already know the identify of the participant set to take that mantle when the King’s profession hits its twilight. Whether or not it is a present NBA All-Star (Giannis Antetokounmpo or Anthony Davis) or a projected No. 1 draft decide (Zion Williamson), it isn’t too early to start out projecting stuff like this. A minimum of that is what ESPN’s basketball writers assume.
That they had 5 NBA writers every make the case for 5 totally different gamers who could possibly be the next face of the NBA. Along with the three listed above, ESPN additionally took a take a look at Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic and, you guessed it, Sixers center Joel Embiid.
This is some of the case for Embiid, as introduced by Tim Bontemps…
In on the lookout for the participant who’s going to fill some of the largest footwear in NBA historical past — changing LeBron James as the face of the sport — why not select actually the largest star in the sport at the moment?
When operating via an inventory of the issues that may permit a participant to develop into the face of the NBA right now, Joel Embiid checks each one of them.
For starters, he’s an incredible participant. Regardless of lacking two full seasons and most of a 3rd with accidents, the 24-year-old is one of the NBA’s most gifted stars. He’s an environment friendly hub of the Philadelphia 76ers’ offense and an enormous anchor of the workforce’s protection, making him one of the league’s most precious gamers. His ascent has been the largest cause the 76ers have risen from the rubble of The Course of to at least one of the league’s elite groups.
On prime of that, Embiid additionally has a character particularly constructed for at present’s media surroundings. His social media recreation — whether or not it’s Instagram posts or tweets — is entertaining, and he performs to the digital camera in nearly each setting. He’s, in each method, the trendy embodiment of Shaquille O’Neal — one other man who, for a time, was arguably the face of the league. …
And as the sport transitions away from the LeBron James period, Embiid is nearly as good a guess as anybody to take over The King’s throne and make it his personal. [espn.com]
An enormous drawback for Sixers?
Brian Murphy | Liberty Ballers
In fact, not the whole lot has been rosy for Embiid recently, who struggled mightily towards Al Horford and the Celtics in the Sixers’ penultimate recreation earlier than the break. Embiid’s frustrations boiled over after the recreation, leading to a $25,000 superb for saying that the officers “f**king sucked.”
Horford, nevertheless, is not the solely huge man that bothers Embiid. One of the East’s latest huge males, Marc Gasol, who was traded from Memphis to Toronto at the deadline, has additionally given Embiid matches. Contemplating these are two of the groups at present standing between the Sixers and the Japanese Convention title they covet, will probably be fascinating to see how these matchups play out downs the stretch.
Horford’s position as the Embiid Strangler is properly documented, however he’s not the just one — fellow Japanese Convention contenders Marc Gasol and even Brook Lopez (to an extent) even have spectacular monitor data towards the Sixers’ celebrity, one thing that should change if the Sixers plan on getting out of the East alive. …
Horford’s mixture of power and velocity give him the bodily attributes to maintain up with The Course of, however his defensive self-discipline is what frustrates Embiid into the dangerous photographs and turnovers that may swing the shut video games that routinely happen between the Sixers and Celtics.
Whereas Horford is the headliner of the group, it’s Gasol who has had the most success at stopping Embiid from scoring the ball. Of their 5 common season matchups, Gasol is Three-2 towards Embiid, and has by no means allowed the Sixers massive man to attain over 20 factors in a recreation or shoot over 50 % from the subject.
Like Horford, Gasol’s mixture of bodily instruments mixed together with his savvy defensive prowess give him the potential to frustrate Embiid, whose greatest offense typically comes off pump fakes and Dream-like publish strikes. When heady defenders like Gasol and Horford keep disciplined towards Embiid, he and the offense round him wrestle. If they will proceed to single cowl Embiid and make him work onerous for the cash, the Celtics and Raptors could have an enormous benefit over the Sixers in a possible playoff collection. [libertyballers.com]
Energy strikes solely
Grant Hughes | Bleacher Report
Now, let’s examine in on some nationwide energy rankings at the All-Star break. First up is Bleacher Report, the place the Sixers held agency in fifth, one spot forward of the Celtics.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ new beginning 5 can be an issue for opponents.
We’re clearly trafficking in small samples, however because it added Tobias Harris to the pre-existing core of Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid, Philly is Three-1, and its first unit has a plus-24.6 internet score, which, extremely, tops the plus-21.zero final yr’s starters posted to steer the league amongst teams with at the least 500 minutes of shared courtroom time.
They have been even a plus-2.2 in Tuesday’s loss to the Celtics. If the Sixers can stagger their stars and/or get dependable manufacturing from Jonathon Simmons, Mike Scott, T.J. McConnell, James Ennis III and Boban Marjanovic, you might make a case they will be the greatest workforce in the East the relaxation of the means.
Lastly, huge information! Dared to shoot all recreation by LeBron James—who routinely gave him 15-plus ft of disrespectful cushion—Simmons cracked. He took a real three-point shot in Sunday’s 143-120 blowout of the Lakers. It was the first non-heave try of his profession, and he missed it, however no less than he gave it a attempt. That is progress. [bleacherreport.com]
Movin’ on up
Kurt Helin | ProBasketballTalk
Over at ProBasketballTalk, the Sixers truly climbed a spot in the rankings this week regardless of going simply 1-1. They’re at present sixth in the NBA, however nonetheless stay one behind the Celtics, who handed the Sixers their solely loss since the staff acquired Tobias Harris & Co. at the deadline final week.
The addition of Tobias Harris to the beginning lineup in Philadelphia with Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, Jimmy Butler, and Joel Embiid has labored very nicely thus far. By way of three video games, that fivesome is +21 in 53 minutes, and that features a 14-7 run towards Denver late in that recreation that helped Philadelphia seal a win. Nevertheless, as the loss to the Celtics Tuesday confirmed, the query can be the bench behind these 5 can deliver (even with Brett Brown staggering his stars some). In the final three video games, the Sixers are +6 complete with lineups that aren’t the starters (and the bench models have been -7 towards Boston). [nba.nbcsports.com]
What the Fultz?
Noah Levick | NBC Sports activities Philadelphia
He is probably not on the Sixers anymore — and he might not have truly talked about them by identify — nevertheless it positive seems like former No. 1 decide Markelle Fultz is speaking about the Sixers right here.
He didn’t say it with something approaching a malicious tone, however one of Fultz’s feedback about why he’s wanting ahead to becoming a member of the Magic might be perceived as a shot at Brett Brown and the Sixers’ teaching employees.
“I think it excites me to have coaches that you know are going to push you to be better,” he stated, “and not just tell you what you want to hear.”
Brown had solely 33 video games to teach Fultz, however he had to deal with lots of off-court drama throughout Fultz’s year-plus in Philadelphia. Brown inserted the 20-year-old into the beginning lineup for the first 15 video games of this season, throughout which Fultz averaged 9.zero factors on 41.2 % capturing, Three.eight rebounds and three.5 assists. The Sixers have been 9-6 with Fultz as a starter. [nbcsports.com]
Would you somewhat?
Daniel Tran | Syracuse.com
I do not know why they’re masking this up in Syracuse, however they could be on to one thing. In fact, the right reply right here is to hang around with each of them at the similar time.
The Philadelphia 76ers have two of the largest personalities, actually, in the NBA between Joel Embiid and Boban Marjanovic. Embiid has thrilled Sixers followers together with his play, however they love him for his fast wit and willingness to combine issues up on social media. Marjanovic has a cult following of his personal by selling an enormous, pleasant big persona who likes to have enjoyable. Who would relatively hang around with?
For what it is value, I voted for Embiid, and am fairly stunned Boban is profitable, simply given Embiid is the extra well-known participant.
Comply with Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin
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