From a marketing perspective, the 76ers’ trip to London is all positive. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are immensely popular beyond Philadelphia and the young duo’s attractiveness in other countries is valuable.
The Sixers must treat their “home” game against the Boston Celtics as a business trip. A win Thursday will put the Sixers above .500 at 20-19 against a quality opponent like the Celtics.
Seeing all the social media posts is wonderful for the Sixers’ brand, but none of that matters when the game tips off and they must find ways to contain Kyrie Irving.
A bit harsh? Maybe.
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But the Sixers are finally trending upward and they need to continue moving in that direction. Four consecutive wins placed them at 19-19 and they’re playing good basketball led by Embiid and Simmons.
“We’re going to walk that line of making it a family thing, a very collective, enjoyable trip, with still the mindset that we’re going to beat the Boston Celtics,” Sixers coach Brett Brown told reporters.
Since the game will begin at 3 p.m. ET, all eyes will be on the Sixers and Celtics from O2 Arena. It’s the Sixers’ first-ever regular season game played internationally.
It’s a big one, too.
“To be able to have an experience like this in the middle of an NBA season is special,” Sixers guard JJ Redick told reporters. “And I certainly don’t take it for granted. … This is a regular season game. We’re not going over there to try and put on a show and the Celtics aren’t trying to put on a show and entertain a British crowd. We’re going over there to try to be a great team.”
Defeating the Celtics on any court would be a major step forward for the surging Sixers. They’re far from a finished product, but the last four games have produced four wins. And even temporarily stopped the Twitter nitwits from asking for Brown to be fired.
Plain and simple, the Sixers are improving.
They still don’t have Markelle Fultz. The bench is still razor thin. Embiid has missed nine games and is likely to sit out more, especially on back-to-backs. Simmons desperately needs a mid-range jumper. Yet the Sixers are getting better.
They will continue to go up and down. They’ll drop five of six and then respond to win five of six. That’s where they currently stand at .500 and those characteristics are part of being a mediocre team. The key is this: improvement is evident.
They need to treat this game in London like any other game. Just execute and play together. Keep the turnovers down. Avoid Irving from scoring 40 points and controlling the flow.
The venue just happens to be in London. Marketing-wise, it’s a win-win situation.
A win on the court would go a long way as well.