PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 16: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts after scoring during the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors during Game One of the Eastern Conference First Round at Wells Fargo Center on April 16, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
By Bob Cooney
Sometimes it takes extremes for a player, or team, to show their true character. We’ve heard it many times from listeners that the regular season doesn’t mean anything when trying to figure out the makeup of a player or team.
Now it’s only been two games against a team that is obviously not on the same playing level when it comes to talent. But this 76ers team seems to have found it’s identity, something they searched for but couldn’t seem to grasp during the 20-plus games after James Harden’s arrival.
They are a beast. Plain and simple. Yes they have played great finesse basketball during this short playoff burst, shooting better than 50 percent from the floor and close to 50 percent from beyond the arc. But it is the physical nature in which the Sixers have imposed their will against an inferior Toronto team that seems to have resonated most with this team.
In Joel Embiid you have perhaps the most physically imposing player in the league. But that wasn’t clearly apparent to many of us who have watched him up close for his seasons in the league. Perhaps him and his teammates knew it but didn’t feel or see it on a nightly basis, either. But it has become blatantly obvious in the 96 minutes of playoff basketball  where this team is at it’s best. It was a phrase coined by this organization more than a year ago but not proven to be true in that time frame. Bully ball is here, Philadelphia. Maybe a little later than you thought, but it is here. It is true and is probably the best character trait for this group to have. How far that will carry them this postseason, we shall see. But it is the first time in the past five years I’ve felt a true identity attached to a Sixers playoff team.