Here’s NBC Sports Philly with an overview of the Sixers as we prepare for the final third of the NBA season:
Let’s start where everything starts with the Sixers: Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. We can debate fit and clashing skill sets all we want. The bottom line is the Sixers need the All-Star duo to be peaking down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Their win over the Clippers before the All-Star break represents exactly the type of performances needed. What was most impressive is that neither player sacrificed their aggressiveness to accommodate the other. Embiid took 17 shots — but also got 13 free throws — while Simmons took a season-high 22 attempts.
While he’s played at an elite level the last 20 games, Simmons’ last 11 may represent the best stretch of his career. The 23-year-old has averaged 12.5 field goal attempts in that span. When he takes at least 13 attempts from the field this season, the Sixers are 17-5. While the jumper may not be there, his improved shot is visible from the line, where he’s hit 73.9 percent on 8.4 attempts during that stretch.
There’s no denying Embiid and Simmons’ importance, but having all of your top-five players is also pretty darn important. The Sixers have only had Embiid, Simmons, Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson and Al Horford together for 21 of 55 games. That’s just 38.1 percent.
A big season-long question with the Sixers, beyond Simmons and Embiid, is the play of veteran power forward Al Horford. When you watch the Sixers, keep an eye on Horford’s role when Embiid is on the floor vs. when he’s off it.
Of course, that same point can be made about Simmons and Embiid.
This team’s offensive spacing has been a season-long chemistry experiment that is still being figured out.