The 76ers have won seven in a row.
They’re in the mix for a playoff berth for the first time since the tanking began -- or the 2012 season under coach Doug Collins.
There are reasons as to why the Sixers are surging in the standings.
To be honest, one reason tops every other. It’s simple – the Sixers are healthy. Better yet … the dynamic duo of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are healthy. They’re playing big minutes together.
Embiid scored 30 points and added 13 rebounds, four blocked shots and three steals while Simmons had 32 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds in the thrilling one-point victory over the Chicago Bulls Thursday night. Embiid then came back with 28 points and 14 rebounds in a scintillating performance against the Magic. Simmons also was strong with 17 points and seven assists.
Growing together on the court is the only way to improve. The beauty of the win in Chicago was the fact that the Sixers were far from perfect. They turned the ball over at key times. They had defensive lapses.
But Embiid also came up with a huge steal and Simmons knocked down two clutch free throws to help win the game against Chicago. Hack-A-Ben now seems light years in the past.
Embiid missed two-and-a-half seasons. Simmons was out for a full season.
For the Sixers to reach the postseason and ultimately win a championship down the road, these two standouts must be on the court. It’s the only way this rebuild will work in the long run.
It’s impressive that Embiid and Simmons are this far ahead with such little on-court experience. That is quite encouraging.
The coaching staff, led by Brett Brown, must be given tons of credit for bringing this team along with young leaders such as Embiid and Simmons.
When you don’t play your best game and still come out with a win like the Sixers managed in Chicago, it will continue building confidence for this young group.
Before the All-Star break, the Sixers were able to overcome a 24-point deficit to defeat the Miami Heat. This team is learning how to win. And learning how to close games in the NBA is tricky. It’s not easy. Especially when you’re not used to winning.
With 26 games remaining, the Sixers are on track for the playoffs with Embiid and Simmons leading the way.
Suddenly, the future is looking brighter by the day. The formula for trending up has their best players on the court. So it’s not all that complicated. Players win games. Embiid and Simmons are rising stars in this league. Winning in the playoffs is another level. First, the Sixers must get there.
They’re on the way. At a rapid pace.