Daryl Bell: The 76ers appear to be playoff ready
Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown doesn’t show his hand too often but when he does, especially of late, the result is a winner.
Heading into Saturday night’s first round National Basketball Association playoff game against the Miami Heat at the Wells Fargo Center, the Sixers are the hottest team in the league. They’ve won a franchise record 16 straight games.
They are an impressive 6-0 since 7-2 center Joel Embiid injured his left orbital bone in a freak collision with Markelle Fultz on March 28.
And speaking of Fultz, the number one selection of the 2017 NBA draft became the youngest player in league history to record a triple double in Wednesday night’s regular season-ending victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. Yes, the kid who has missed much of the season with a muscle imbalance in his shoulder, is looking like he may be a keeper.
The Sixers, the third-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, are fun to watch. They love to run. They love to pass. They love to dunk. They’re just learning how to shoot.
Defensively, the Sixers are relentless. It’s going to be interesting to see how they fare against a veteran team like the sixth-seeded Heat.
There are two moves that may could be pointed to as turning points for the Sixers’ season. On Feb. 12, the Sixers signed Marc Belinelli. On Feb. 28, the signed Ersan Ilyasova. With those signings, the Sixers became a very dangerous team. Belinelli and and Ilyasova are professional shooters. They have never met a shot that they didn’t like or couldn’t hit. With them bombing away from the outside, J.J. Redick and Robert Covington were able to relax on the court. The result has been winning basketball.It’s also opened the court for Ben Simmons to operate. He’s been racking up triple doubles and looked more like a grizzled veteran than a nervous rookie. Its one of several reasons why Wilson should walk away with the Rookie of the Year award.
Many have projected that the Sixers will make it to the Eastern Conference finals. On paper, that appears to be a good bet. But this is the first time for many wearing the red, white and blue of appearing in the postseason. This is definitely the first time that Brown will have coached in the postseason as a head coach. He’s had plenty of experience while winning a couple of NBA championships with the San Antonio Spurs.
Can the young and restless 76ers continue their upward trek to NBA elitism? Can this group continue the winning tradition of Philadelphia teams like the Soul, the Eagle and Villanova University. Can the Sixers give fans another reason to have a championship parade.
These and other zanny questions will soon be answered. Stay tuned.