After a heartbreaking loss to the Miami Heat (4-2) in the NBA Conference Semifinals to end their 2021-2022 season, the Philadelphia 76ers are determined to find their way to the top this season. The Sixers have not won an NBA championship since their 1982-83 season, yet they are confident they can hoist the trophy this year to bring a fourth title to the franchise.
The 76ers are currently ranked third in the Eastern Conference with a 46-22 regular season record. They have winning records both at home (26-10) and away (20-12), with a winning percentile of 67.6 percent. The Philadelphia team sits behind the Milwaukee Bucks (50-19) and the Boston Celtics (47-22) in the conference. In the league overall, the Sixers still stand at an impressive third place, with the Denver Nuggets nearing them in fourth.
The Sixers have just fourteen games left in regular play. With the regular season closing fast, the Sixers are in a great position for an automatic bid into the playoffs.
Big man Joel Embiid is an integral part of the 76ers success. He currently leads the NBA league in points per game (33.4). He also leads the Sixers in rebounds per game (10.0). The seven-foot center, playing in his seventh season with the Sixers, has established himself as an indispensable member of the franchise.
“I take pride every single time I step on the floor, no matter who’s guarding, I feel like I’m unguardable,” Embiid said. “I want to show them that it’s not that easy to guard me.”
Embiid is a four-time All-NBA 2nd Team player (2018, 2019, 2021, 2022) and a three-time All-Defensive 2nd Team player (2018, 2019, 2021). And from an average-points-per-game perspective, this season for Embiid may just statistically be his best yet. He is certainly in contention for this season’s Most Valuable Player award.
Shooting guard James Harden is also showing up big for the Sixers. After having a somewhat disappointing season last year (at least by his lofty standards), Harden has bounced back, averaging 21.8 points per game as the team’s second-leading scorer. He also leads the NBA league in assists per game (10.8). This is Harden’s sixteenth season overall and second season with the Sixers after the Philly team’s lucrative trade with the Brooklyn Nets following the 2021-2022 season. Harden is a six-time All-NBA 1st Team Player (2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020). He also won the Kia NBA Most Valuable Player Award for the 2017-2018 season as a member of Houston Rockets, beating out fellow finalists Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
The Sixers took a narrow victory, 147-143, over the Indiana Pacers last week. Pacers guard T.J. McConnell gave credit to the Sixers’ starpower. “When you have a guy like Joel and a guy like James, it’s hard to stop them.”
What is most important for the Sixers now is to keep pushing through. Joel Embiid continues to battle soreness in his left foot, and Harden sat the bench last week with foot soreness of his own. Playing 68 games in the regular season thus far has taken a toll on every player, but this is the time of the season that matters most.
“We’re tired. I mean, I’m tired today. So if I’m tired, they’re exhausted. We did a lot, really … it’s just a tough stretch, and we know it; it’s going to just require us to have as much focus as possible and try to maintain our legs,” Head Coach Doc Rivers told Philly Voice.
The Sixers will continue fighting off fatigue and vying for victory. Their next game is away on Friday, March 17 against the Charlotte Hornets at 7:00 p.m. EST.