The Philadelphia 76ers have gotten off to a good start. They are currently 33-18 and fourth in the Eastern Conference standings. To begin this season this team had high hopes after the disappointing loss to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Right now they are in the toughest stretch of the season where they will face teams like the Golden State Warriors, Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics. They have already won five out of seven of those games. They are looking impressive during this stretch. They have proved that they can play with the best in the league. Philadelphia has beaten teams like the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers. The Sixers should be excited for what the near future has in store for them.
Philadelphia 76ers Mid-Season Review
The Jimmy Butler Trade
After the Sixers loss to the Boston Celtics in the Semi-Finals, they knew they needed to fill a gaping hole. There was no shot creator and defender on the wing that they could rely on to make clutch shots and also play defense on the best wing on the opposing team. So in the offseason, they tried to get LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard. They were unable to get either one. Jimmy Butler became available when he requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves. With high media attention, especially after the infamous practice where Butler said that the Timberwolves needed him, Butler was traded to the Sixers. Philadelphia parted ways with Jerryd Bayless, Robert Covington, Dario Saric and a 2022 second-round draft pick in order to get Butler. They also received Justin Patton in the trade.
So far Philadelphia is only 14-15 since getting Butler but in his first couple of games, he hit two game winners. They were against the Charlotte Hornets and against the Brooklyn Nets. Butler immediately proved that he can get buckets (as his nickname clearly states). With the Sixers, Butler is averaging 19.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game so far. The playoffs will be the true test though. They will need Butler for when things get tight and points become scarce. If the Sixers have success in the playoffs Butler may resign with the team. He has a player option this year.
Joel Embiid‘s Hot Play
Joel Embiid is having an MVP caliber season in this first half. If not for James Harden‘s hot play Embiid would have to at least be in the conversation. Embiid is averaging 27.2 points, 13.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game so far. He is eighth in points per game, fourth in rebounds per game and ninth in blocks per game. He came into this season saying he wants the MVP trophy and he has played like it.
Embiid has dominated the post on both ends of the floor and will need to keep the consistency if the Sixers want better than the fourth seed. The playoffs are where Embiid will be able to truly make his mark on the season. If he is able to get the Sixers to the Finals then that will be a step in the right direction for Sixers and their “process.”
Markelle Fultz Injury
Markelle Fultz has been out a significant portion of the season with thoracic outlet syndrome. At the beginning of the season, Fultz’s jump shot was said to be repaired and there were positive signs during the season as he hit some jumpers. While that is true, the injury was not fixed and Fultz has been out for a significant portion of his second season. Last year Fultz came back from his injury and was the youngest player in NBA history to ever record a triple-double. In the playoffs, Fultz only played three games and averaged 1.7 points per game.
After a rookie season of only playing in 14 games, Fultz was going into this season with high hopes of playing and playing well. He was a day one starter and started in 15 games to begin the season. He has only played 19 games this year but there are still hopes that he will come back. It will be interesting to see what happens to Fultz after the All-Star break. Will he be playing or done for the season? It has yet to be seen.
Good Individual Play
Philadelphia is doing well individually and overall they are having success. Ben Simmons has recorded eight triple-doubles this season which is good for second in the league. He may be on his way to his first All-Star game after averaging 16.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.2 assists in the first half of the season. JJ Redick has been the team’s three-point threat. He is having his best season as a pro. Redick is averaging 18.4 points and has made three, three-pointers per game which both are career highs.
Landry Shamet has been great off the bench for the Sixers. He is averaging 8.3 points per game and is shooting 40.4 percent from the three-point line. He is having a great rookie season. He adds three-point shooting that the team needs. Corey Brewer was added to the team and he is on his second ten-day contract. He has been playing good defense and his hustle has been invaluable to the team.
The Sixers have a lot of pieces that are working for them right now. Team chemistry has to be high as they are playing well during their toughest stretch of the season. After the All-Star break, the Sixers will have to play well to get ready for the playoffs. Getting a one or two seed has to be a goal going into the second half of the season.
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