By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor
Since the beginning of the season, the media has tried to push the narrative that the Sixers’ All-Star don’t mesh together and can’t succeed as a duo. Now as the NBA is gearing up for its return, it’s a perfect chance for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to silence their doubters.
With these four months off to recover and get their bodies right, the two are poised to lead the Sixers to a deep playoff run. Simmons said he has been able to get stronger in this time off and teammates have said Embiid has been working hard on his conditioning in the time off.
What was shaping up to be a rocky finish to the regular season turned into a chance to hit the reset button. Situations like this are one in a million, and they need to make the most of this opportunity.
The fit is not seamless between the two of them, but they’ve shown not only that they can coexist but they can succeed. We saw last postseason that the Sixers were a miracle shot away from making it to the conference finals in just their second postseason run together. Now with multiple playoff runs behind them, they know what is expected when the lights get bright.
Another reason why now is a great chance to silence their critics is the team around them. This current Sixers’ roster is arguably the best group of talent they have had around them since they stepped on an NBA floor together. Yes, last season’s starting lineup may have been better, but top to bottom this roster has to be their best batch of teammates.
If the Sixers can make a deep run in Orlando it will leave all their doubters speechless. All season the Sixers were looked at as underachievers and are now at best looked at as a sleeper team when the playoffs begin. A deep playoff run would not only prove everyone wrong but prove themselves right, as they have said from the beginning that this roster was built for the playoffs, not the regular season.
One undeniable thing is that they are easily one of the best defensive duos in the league. Ben Simmons led the league in steals this season, was a top defender in the league on the perimeter and has a real case to be in the defensive player of the year conversation. Then behind him is Joel Embiid who is a top-level rim protector and shot blocker. Together the two can wear down any team in a seven-game series.
The Sixers are only going to go as far as Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid can take them. They now have the experience and solid pieces around them to make a run. Not to mention a break to get their bodies and minds right for postseason play. This postseason is a real chance to silence their critics and show the league they can be a dominant force together. It is going to be interesting to see how they step up to the challenge.