How Long Can the Sixers Survive Without Ben Simmons?

By Matthew Green, Sports Talk Philly Staff

Ever since June of 2020 when the 76ers suffered a devastating elimination to the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA Playoffs, Ben Simmons has fluctuated in and out of headlines across all media platforms. Simmons' silence, injury conspiracies, and rumored attitude issues following the Hawks series have fractured his relationship with the Philadelphia fans and organization. Though no trade has become official at this point, it seems like a foregone conclusion that the three-time All-Star will eventually be moved, as he has yet to suit up for the Sixers this season.

Currently, Philadelphia is about halfway through their 2021-2022 campaign and sit at fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a 23-16 record. While the team lacks the star power that they would otherwise have with Simmons, they have been able to remain afloat without him. The Sixers are one of the hottest teams in the entire league. They have won seven straight games, including a December 30th, 2020 victory over the star-studded Brooklyn Nets.

A variety of factors have led to Philadelphia's recent success, but the core contributor has been the MVP-level of play from superstar Joel Embiid. Over the last seven games, he has averaged 32.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists.  Despite all of the lineup shifts that the 76ers have had to implement due to the NBA's health and safety protocols, Embiid has consistently performed at a high level and is leading his team to big wins. However, many of his teammates have been able to rally behind him and provide productive games in many of the wins.

Furkan Korkmaz has scored in the double-digits in three of his last four games, including two 20+ point performances on January 3rd and 5th. Andre Drummond has averaged 9.2 rebounds per game and provides an energetic spark off the bench. Tyrese Maxey and Seth Curry have both stepped up to be Embiid's scoring costars in many of the games that Philadelphia has won. Matisse Thybulle has scored double-digit points in both of the team's most recent games, further proving that he has improved his offensive game while remaining a menace on defense. 

The Sixers certainly have an exciting young roster that has found ways to win, but can they continue to win with Ben Simmons away from the team? Unfortunately, Philadelphia would simply not matchup well in a seven-game series against teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets that have multiple superstar talents. They may be able to get to the playoffs with their current roster, but they would likely struggle to go far.

It is hard to predict whether the team would continue to function off chemistry if Ben Simmons were to return to the team, but it is certain that they are better on paper with him. However, a Simmons-Sixers reunion seems highly unlikely at this point in the season.

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76ers Kick Off 2022 With Big Win Over Rockets

By Matthew Green, Sports Talk Philly Staff

After ending 2021 with a staple victory over the Brooklyn Nets on December 30th, the 76ers returned back to the Wells Fargo Center on Monday night to kickstart the new year.

 

The Sixers were able to begin 2022 1-0 after earning a 133-113 victory over the Houston Rockets. Despite the big margin of victory, the win did not come easy for the 76ers. 

 

It was a tale of two halves for Philadelphia, as they entered halftime trailing by one point to the Rockets 62-63. While the first half was not bad for the Sixers, the rust from their three days off kept the Rockets floating around.

 

"We did not have the focus all game," said Joel Embiid on his team's performance. "But when we did, we were great just moving the ball and playing with each other."

 

Philly seemed to certainly have more of that focus in the second half, as they exploded for 71 points and outscored Houston by 21. Embiid himself was the difference maker in Philadelphia picking up the win, as he was able to put up 31 points, 15 total rebounds, and 10 assists for only his third career triple-double.

 

While Embiid had a huge game, he was also able to receive vital production from the rest of his teammates. 

 

Seth Curry had a difficult start to the night, shooting an abnormal 0-6 from the field in the first half. However, Curry was able to bounce back to doing "Curry things" in the third and fourth quarters, hitting 6 of his 7 shot attempts for 15 points. 

 

Furkan Korkmaz and Isaiah Joe were also major contributors in this game. Both players saw an uptick in minutes with Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle both out for the night due to  health and safety protocols. 

 

Korkmaz was the second-leading scorer for Philadelphia on Monday night, posting 24 total points after being inserted into the starting lineup. Meanwhile, Isaiah Joe was able to provide a spark off the bench, giving his team 18 points and knocking down five threes from beyond the arc. 

 

Despite the Rockets' young stars keeping them in the game for the better half of it, the offensive production from the 76ers ended up being too much for them to handle. However, Houston will only have to wait one week to get another crack at Philly when they host the Sixers on January 10th for the teams' second and final meeting of the regular season.

 

In the meantime, the 76ers will look to continue winning here in 2022. They will travel to Orlando this Wednesday to take on the Magic, followed by a home date with the Spurs on Friday to round out the week. 


Should Joel Embiid Be Getting More MVP Love?

By Matthew Green, Sports Talk Philly Staff

While the NBA is a only a little over one-third of the way through its season, it is never too early to debate who will bring home the coveted Most Valuable Player award when the 2021-2022 regular season is over. 

At this point of the season, fans and media have begun to narrow down their MVP favorites to the top six or seven players that have a legitimate shot to take home the hardware. Many former MVPs and big names have once again thrown their names into the hat for this year's MVP award. 

While several players are having tremendous seasons this year in their own right, there is one glaring player that has inserted himself into the conversation that has not yet won the trophy: Joel Embiid.

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