Category Archives: Sixers

The Warriors are Toast and the Sixers are not!

Game 4 of he NBA finals was a disappointment. The Warriors who played are not the Warriors we are used to watching play. They did not have that explosiveness that has defined them for so many seasons.

It may be the injuries. Durant is out and Thomson is playing with a tender hamstring. And it may be that their legs have too many miles on them.

Whatever the reason, it looks like they just cannot keep up with the Raptors and Kawhi. Especially Kawhi. So I am expecting  the Raptors to bring  the championship trophy to Toronto, and Kawhi to be the MVP.

Beyond that, we might ask, what does this mean for these and other teams? For the Warriors, this is a troubling situation. Their incredible boat load of stars could not pull off a repeat. Not only that, Durant and Thomson are free agents. Thomson says he will re-sign. But Durant? After the dust up he had with Draymon Green, and this loss, Durant might be looking to move on.

And the Raptors? They will have to re-sign Kawhi. That will be more likely if they win the championship. But it is not guaranteed. Kawhi may now be in a position to think — as LeBron did — where is best media markets are. New York? LA?  And who knows. He may wan to team up with … Durant.

And we might keep in mind that the Sixers took the Raptors to 7 games. Not only that, the Raptors only won that 7th game by a highly improbable last second corner 3 by Kawhi. And that was despite the fact that Joel was playing subpar ball due to injuries, Ben Simmons sill has no jump shot, and Tobias basically sucked. The Sixers should be feeling pretty good about next season.

What about those Sixers?`They need to bring in a back up to Joel. They will do that. They need to sign Jimmy to a max. They will do that. They need to upgrade the bench. They will do that. These are “no brainers”. The most interesting question is whether they stick with Tobias Harris. And that is a tough one.

Tobias has a lot of potential. But he did not play up to that potential last season. He has an excuse — he was forced to play out of position and did not have time to adjust. Fair enough. But can he adjust? Or would the Sixers be better served moving him?

Stay tuned on that one.

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Sixers Lore: In Brand We Trust

The Sixers went through a turbulent season that in the end did no deliver as much as we wanted from the team.

Turbulent? How about dumping the GM, trading away 2 starters and bringing in 2 star performers, getting rid of your eternally injured number 1 draft pick, and re-shaping the bench.

Did not deliver? The Sixers did not make it to he Eastern Conference finals, let alone he NBA finals. But yes, they did take the Raptors to 7 games in the semis, losing only on a last second desperation corner bomb by Kawhi that bounced around the rim for an eternity and would not have gone in 9,999 times out of 10,000.

So what to make of the off season? With 3 starers unsigned and major, major spending issues open, this off season is critical for the team.

Here is the thing. I trust that Elton Brand (the Sixers GM) will make the right decisions. I did not have that feeling with the former Sixer GM, Mr. Colangelo. So despite the uncertainty, I actually feel pretty good about the off season.

And I feel pretty good about the team. We might keep in mind the following

  • By the numbers, the Sixers starting 5 is as good if not better than any other starting  5 in the league
  • The above is true even though the starters only played 10 games together before heading into the playoffs.
  • The Sixers desperately need a back up to Joel Embiid to enable him to get more rest during games. Joel fell apart in the Raptors series from being overplayed — and this must be avoided next season.
  • Ben Simmons must start shooting from the outside to balance out the offense. He does not need to make a high percentage of these, just enough to keep the defense honest. He has all summer to figure this out.
  • Tobias Harris needs to figure out his role. He was not in good rhythm during the playoffs. If Elton thinks Tobias cannot do this, a major trade may be in the works.
  • Jimmy Butler should get a max contract. The question will be how many years does he get guaranteed.
  • The Sixers need to upgrade their bench again. Not just backing up Embiid. They need better defense, and a consistent scoring threat. At least part of that may come from Zhaire Smith. But they need more than just Zhaire. Interesting questions abound. My guess is that Jonathon Simmons, Korky and Boban are toast. Bolden? Not sure. Scott and Ennis? No sure. TJ? He will be back, but will play only inspirational minutes.

If Elton figures out most of the above stuff, the Sixers could go all the way next year.

Onward!

This Season Was a Wild Ride for Sixer Fans!

This was an odd season for Sixer fans.

It started with disappointment. We missed Marco and Ersan.  Markelle was not ready to play. Wilson Chandler was not setting the world on fire. The Sixers were not as good as the best teams in the east. The season looked like a bust.

Then the trades started. Jimmy came and Roco and Dario were gone. Then Tobias and Bobo came and Landry Shamet and Wilson Chandler were gone.

The problems were obvious. Joel had no credible back up. And the bench was horrible. Then came Scott, Ennis and Simmons. But there was little time for this team to gel. They were up and down.Then came the playoffs, and the win against the Nets, then the loss to the Raptors in the 7th game.

I will always remember that bouncing ball from Kawhi’s corner 3 that went in with no time left on the clock.

This post from Liberty Ballers puts this all in a fun perspective. Enjoy! Here is a peek

As my brother and I walked toward my car, the sea of red, white and blue now beginning to disperse across the lots, I turned for a moment to look back at the Wells Fargo Center. It is a place that has always felt more like a second home than a sports arena. I’ve experienced soul-crushing losses and triumphant victories there. I’ve hugged complete strangers and mocked opposing teams’ fans there. I’ve experienced the truest sense of communal spirit there. If that was going to be the last night I spent in the Wells Fargo Center during the 2018-19 season, I was at peace with it.

Have the Sixers Peaked?

The season is over. The season when the Sixers were supposed to win is over. And the Sixers did not win. They went far – into the conference semis. And they took a very good Raptors team to 7 games. And they lost the 7th on an improbable shot from Kawhi that would not have gone in 99 times out of 100.

Butt it did go in and the Sixers lost game 7. And now we need to think about what this means for the team. Let’s first state the obvious. If you think back to the start of the season — which seems a long, long  time ago — it is amazing that the team got this far. Remember that team – the team that got blown out by the Celtics, Bucks and Raptors? This team is a lot better.

We have Brett Brown and Elton Brand to thank for that.  Brand made the trades that upgraded the team. He brought in Butler and Harris and Scott and Ennis. Meanwhile, Brett Brown made that new unit come together. This was not an automatic – just look at the Celtics, a team loaded with talent that did not come together.

On the down side, Elton gave up a lot of assets to get the Sixers to this point. He pretty much emptied out the pantry of future draft picks and gave away some young talent. Moreover, Butler and Harris are expensive team assets who may or may not stick around.  Redick as well may bolt.

That leaves open a lot of questions for the summer. Last summer, the team pretty much bet that they would do ok without making major moves. The whiffed on Lebron and Kawhi. That gamble was based on a mistake that the eastern conference would stand still and Joel and Ben needed another year to mature (along with Markelle Fultz). The eastern conference did not sand still. The Bucks, Raptors, Pacers and Celtics all upgraded. And the Sixers were left a step behind at the start of the season. That became painfully obvious with Markelle’s shoulder problems.

And now? On paper, the Sixers have the best, or at least one of the best starting 5’s in the league. The problem with that unit is cohesion. They have only played a few games together. If you buy that, the goals should be to enable them to gain that cohesion. In other words keep Butler and Harris and Redick.

Of these 3, Harris is the most questionable. He has been good, but has faltered a bit in clutch situations. My own view is that this was due to difficulties in adjusting to his role with this team. We shall see. .

At the same time, the Sixers will need to upgrade in one major area – their bench. Most important, the Sixers desperately need to figure out how to get Joel off the floor more frequently. They need a back up 5 who can play against any team Bobo can play against some teams, but not all. So he is not the solution. Jonah Bolden has to show that he can be relied upon not to blow defensive assignments. Would I bet the farm on Jonah? No. He is better off he bench as a 4 than a 5.

And this is not the only bench problem. Scott and Ennis are credible in back up roles. But to win, the Sixers need more punch off the bench.

I am sure that Elton and Brett know this better than I do. And I am confident that they are already talking about how to deliver. The first step – rehire Brett. I understand that this is already done. The next step – start making some decisions about how to keep the starting unit together. The third step – solve the bench problems.

BTW, one bright spot. Zhaire Smith will have all summer to work on his skills. No question that if he stays healthy, he will play a valuable role coming off he bench next season, if for nothing else, his defense.  His offense will remain a work in progress.

So onward Sixers! Next season will be here before you know it!

The Ball Bounced in and the Sixers Season is Over

Game 7 of he Sixer/Raptor series was, shall we say, tense. In fact, you could cut the air with a knife.

At the very end, the Rapors had the ball with the score tied and 4 seconds to go. Naturally, they gave it to Kwahi who was guarded closely. He raced to he corner and lofted a 3. It looked like it had no chance to go in. And it bounced off the rim very high. Those types of bounces usually mean a missed shot. It bounded again off the rim.  And it bounced in.

The buzzer sounded.

Game over. Season over for the Sixers. You can see the shot in a video at this link.

You have to give Kawhi his due. That was an amazing shot. But in fact, the Raptors won because of something else. At crunch time, they played amazing defense. On at least 2 possessions they prevented the Sixers from getting a good look. Of course, you might also say that the Sixers helped out there by being disorganized. Each time they tried to go to Butler who was locked up, then to Embiid who was locked up — predictable sequences.

Ah well. The Sixers gave us a good ride this season. I am grateful for that. The Raptors move on to face the Bucks.

Contemplating Game 7 in the Sixers/Raptors Series

Is this an important game?

Heehee. Anyone who asks that question has not been following he Sixers for he last several years.

This is he most important game the Sixers have played in that entire period.  Why? During he so called “process”, the reason you watched the Sixers play had little to do with whether they won. The main thing was how they played. Were they giving their all? And were they having fun?

Usually the answer to both questions was “yes”. And so, even as he Sixers lost game after game, they were fun to watch.

Now, the Sixers have a different mission. They need to win in order o justify the investments they made to patch together this team. If they o win and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, they justify the investment. If they lose, there will be loads of questions about next year … as there are now in Boston after the Celtics lost to the Bucks.

Here is the weird thing. In order to win, the Sixers have to play the way they used to play — they have to have fun. If they are having fun, they gel as a team. If they tighten up, the Sixers fall apart.

We have seen both incarnations of the Sixers in this year’s playoffs. Indeed, we have seen both incarnations in both playoff series. So there is no way to know which Sixers team will come out of the locker room.

I hope it is the fun team. But we shall see!

Sixers Force a Game 7!

As game time approached, I considered the possibility that this would be a wipe out. The Sixers might just fold like they did in game 5. And that would be rather sad, especially after all of he ups and downs of his season.

But the Sixers came to play.

In fact, you can argue that the Sixers demonstrated that they are the better team in this series. Better than the Raptors. Why? With Joel Embiid starting to regain his form, the Sixers have more weapons on offense. And they are capable of playing very good defense. The Raptors have Kawhi, but the rest of the team is not as dynamic as it needs to be. Good but not great.

And Jimmy Buckets is demonstrating that he is a clutch player. When the chips are down, he can deliver.

And Ben Simmons can be amazing.

And JJ can shoot the eyes out of the basket from 3.

And Tobias … well … he has his moments.

You get the idea.

So I will stick my neck out. The Sixers will win game 7 in Toronto and move on to face the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals!

Stay tuned!