It’s Time For The Stars To Align In Philadelphia

The Sixers have their ideal starting five after making separate in-season moves for Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. However, their reward comes with a tax of unfamiliarity.

The J.J. RedickJoel EmbiidBen Simmons-Harris-Butler unit has played in just nine games together so far. While many playoff teams will try to give their starters some rest over the next two weeks, Philadelphia has no such luxury, as the team’s new pieces need as much time together as they can get to prepare for postseason battle.

“Because we have played so few games together, the importance of keeping these guys as much as you can on the court and experiencing playing with each other is really important,” coach Brett Brown said (via Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer). “So somewhere out there, you hope to strike a balance [between resting players and keeping players fresh].”

Various injuries and nights of rest have limited the team’s time together on the court. However, when the stars align, Brown has attempted to make the most of the opportunities. The starting five has seen nearly 17 minutes per contest, which is the most minutes per game among any Sixers’ 5-man combination all season (per NBA.com, including lineups pre-trade lineups).

The Sixers have a hold on the third seed in the conference by just two games over the Pacers and they own the tiebreaker with Indiana after winning three of four tilts this year. No one in Philadelphia is going to discuss a preferred opponent, but the seeding matters, as falling to No. 4 would likely mean a first-round battle with the Celtics.

While they recently beat Boston in a statement win, the Sixers have earned just four victories over their last 25 games against their Atlantic Division rival (including last season’s 4-1 playoff series loss). Imagine having to go through Boston, Toronto, and Milwaukee to get to the NBA Finals and doing so without much rest leading up to the playoffs. That undesirable path remains in play.

The team has seven games remaining and the upcoming schedule isn’t strenuous. Embiid & Co. take on the Nets in Philadelphia before a three-game business trip through Minnesota, Dallas, and Atlanta. The Sixers could lock up a top-three seed before they return to Philadelphia to play the Bucks on April 4. Yet, after back-to-back losses to the Hawks and Magic, penciling in W’s is a fool’s task.

The Sixers arguably present Golden State with the greatest matchup challenge among all Eastern Conference contenders. Whether they get the opportunity to try to take down the two-time reigning champs will likely come down to two factors: the path taken and familiarity with one another. On Thursday vs. the Nets, Philly will get a chance to work on both components, as the five starters are expected to play game number 10 together.

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21 thoughts on “It’s Time For The Stars To Align In Philadelphia

  1. Z-A

    The cupcake games turn into losses or nailbiters. Need to play consistent and stop turning the ball over. Stop feeding Embiid 3s in the 4th bc he is gassed and too tired to go down low so he jacks up bricks.

    • phenomenalajs

      The next game is not a cupcake game. The Nets are fighting like hell to hold on to their playoff spot with what may be the roughest schedule down the stretch.

    • I love watching Embiid shoot threes. You’re the best scoring center since Shaq, and you want to be out shooting threes at a less than 30% rate? Go right ahead!

  2. Guest617

    celtics don’t have their mojo tis year – raps tho could be a handful, esp with gasol vs embiid. in a series toronto has an edge to home court adv

  3. brewcrew08

    Find it strange that no one has said Milwaukee Bucks in the story or posts at all. They just beat a good Houston team by 15 tonight with their injuries and are 32-6 at home this year. Not to mention Mirotic will be back at some point in the first round. Brogdon could be back late in the second round.

  4. klarmore11

    Very arguable they present the best chance to the Dubs. Milwaukee has been the better squad all season long and unlike Philly, is greater than the sum of its parts. I doubt Philly’s ability to even get through the second round.

  5. x%sure

    I hope Philly fails to hold the 3 seed, so we get a BOS/PHL series. But playing their starters they should hold it. Indiana #4 with an unbalanced roster– 3 good centers and no good 2Gs– will draw redemption-minded Boston.

  6. Milwaukee has a very easy path to the ECF, as they will have Magic in 1st & Indy/Celts 2nd, no need to sweat it much there.
    The other side is more interesting, as Philly will have it easy against either Nets/Pistons in 1st… but Raps if they are lucky to land Nets too… but if they land Pistons, I will be very surprised if they actually go through at all. So the 2nd could be Philly/Pistons which should be easy for Philly, if the Raps make it they will give Philly a series… but at the end star power says that Toronto has Kawhi & a Gasol that has done real badly since the trade versus Simmons, Butler, Toby & Embiid, so Philly should make it to the ECF.
    Again Bucks at the moment work better as a team, but it comes down to the same Bucks despite having Giannis, they don’t have enough star power to match up Philly.
    I really hope Sixers make it to the Finals v GSW/Denver as it would be such a great final, Warriors will need DMC at his very best to have a chance against this sixer team!!!

      • In RS this year Pistons 4/Raptors 0. Sooo yes I don’t think Raptors can beat Detroit, why wouldn’t I? Please enlighten me, right?

  7. Lefty_Orioles_Fan
    Lefty_Orioles_Fan

    It’s Time For The Stars To Align In Philadelphia

    With Brett ‘The Clown’ Brown at the helm… good luck on that! However, be rest assured the media will defend Brown at every turn and make sure he is addressed as Mr. Brown and that he receives the GOAT status!

    SMH

  8. Curtisrowe

    Philly has one of the worst benches in the entire league. I don’t see them hanging with Toronto or Milwaukee.

  9. We need to see continuity during these games. If Brett brown thinks this is the time to tinker then they will slip out of the third seed and see an early round exit to Boston.

  10. snotrocket

    Toronto or Milwaukee will be coming out of the east. Been pretty obvious all season.

  11. Stoop Down Low

    Sixers are not that great in spite of their loaded roster put together on the fly. Maybe the chemistry will take by the end of the season but it’s not looking good right now. Toronto or Milwaukee in the finals.

  12. Philly has issues, many of which are natural in light of the number of in-season changes they’ve made. There are other things that I and others I know don’t like about them, including the HC and the rigid way they use certain guys.

    But the NBA is mostly about talent. Other things (chemistry and flexibility) matter when they do, but it’s usually a mistake to hard wire those in as discounting a team’s talent over any significant stretch. IMO, Philly is the most talented team in the East, and maybe in the entire league. If they can stay healthy, and stay away from Boston in the first round, then I really like their chances to come out of the East, and maybe win it all.

    • Totally agree, dude!!! NBA is all about star power & oh brother do the sixers have it!!!

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