Has The Sixers' Championship Window Closed?

By Michael Doctorovitz, Sports Talk Philly Staff

Since 2017, the Sixers have been a regular in the NBA playoffs but haven't had much success in the postseason. After being the top seed in the Eastern Conference last season for the first time in two decades, the team's championship window seemed to be wide open. After a playoff collapse and a very shaky offseason the Sixers find themselves currently sitting at sixth in the conference. The East is a tight race this year though. Although the team is sixth in the conference, they are only 2.5 games back from the top seed, Chicago Bulls. 

With the amount of star power on teams such as the Bulls, Nets, Warriors, Heat, Suns, etc. it will be hard for the team to compete for a championship currently without making any big moves soon. However, the championship window remains cracked open for one reason: Joel Embiid. Embiid is the driving force for this team, arguably the best center in basketball and, at times, can perform like the best basketball player on the planet. This current Sixers roster is good but cannot compete in a seven game series with any of the aforementioned teams. 

Most of the top teams in the league have at least an All-Star duo and a rising star to go along with them. The Sixers currently have one All-Star in Embiid and a rising star in Tyrese Maxey. With Ben Simmons out of the picture and willing to sit out the entire year, if he's not traded by the February 10th deadline, the Sixers need to make a trade for another star to pair with Embiid if they want to continue to compete. 

According to Marc Stein, Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden has recently expressed his openness to playing elsewhere. Harden and Sixers president of basketball operations, Daryl Morey, were together in Houston and the Sixers have been connected to the Harden trade rumors ever since Morey came on board. A trade scenario for Harden, where the Sixers don't have to give up Maxey, is exactly the type of win now trade they would need to make in order to continue competing for a championship.

Vegas oddsmakers currently have the Sixers at +2500 to win the 2022 NBA Finals, that is ninth overall in the league and fourth in their respective conference. The Sixers entered the season at +1600 to win the NBA Finals, at the time those odds were seventh best in the league. For the Sixers to get back on track and into true contender form they need to change some things up on their current roster and hope that their squad can get healthy at the right times as Embiid continues to pave the way and play at an MVP type level. 

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What Has Sparked the Sixers' Seven-Game Winning Streak?

By Michael Doctorovitz, Sports Talk Philly Staff

The 2021 calendar year ended on a rough note for the Sixers, losing four out of five games to close out December.  But the Sixers have started 2022 with seven straight victories.  What is behind this calendar year winning streak?

Health has been a factor, as the team has been getting some players back after being in the league's health and safety protocols, along with head coach Doc Rivers. Getting healthy is one thing, but the MVP type of play from Joel Embiid has been the driving force for the team.

After starting the season off a little slow, the All-Star center has been on a tear lately and seems to be regaining his MVP like form. To start the season in October, Embiid was averaging 21 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists through 6 games. After entering the league's health and safety protocols, and missing 3 weeks of action in November, Embiid played just 5 games and averaged 25 points, 12.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists per contest. In both months his field goal percentage hovered around 43%. 

During the team's current seven-game win streak, Embiid has averaged 33.2 points and 10.5 rebounds. During Monday night's road victory vs the Houston Rockets, Embiid broke the franchise record for most consecutive 30 point road games. The current win streak has propelled the Sixers to a 23-16 record, and 5th in the conference, as they currently sit 4 games back of the Eastern Conference leading Chicago Bulls. 

Embiid has now pushed his season averages up to 27 points, 10.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists while shooting 47.8% from the field and 38.5% from 3. Embiid also continues to be one of the best rim protectors in the league, averaging 1.4 blocks per game and 1.1 steals per game thus far. Embiid however, is not the only player who has stepped up during the win streak. Forward Tobias Harris has heard his name in trade talks recently but has continued to play well for the Sixers, especially during this streak. The past 4 games Harris has scored 18 points on 47.6% from the field but has still been inconsistent from 3. 

Although Tyrese Maxey has not played in the last 4 games due to Covid-19, he has been a consistent scoring option for the team all season and Furkan Korkmaz has seemed to bust out of his slump to fill his role nicely until he returns. In the last 4 games, Korkmaz has averaged 15.8 points while shooting 44% from the field and 37% from 3 which are all higher than his current season averages. 

The team looks and hopes to get healthier as the All-Star break quickly approaches. Shake Milton remained out with a back contusion on Monday night, along with Seth Curry and Maxey who both missed the contest due to left ankle soreness and Covid-19 health and safety protocols. 

The team will travel back to Philadelphia to play the 22-19 Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night before hosting the rival Boston Celtics on Friday night. 

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