By Bob Cooney:
Hey, check it out. No, I really mean it. Check it out.
The 76ers are winners of 12 of their last 15 games, during which time they’ve taken care of the home court – where 10 of those games were played; they’ve won without star players in Joel Embiid, bothered by a strained foot, and Tyrese Maxey who recently returned to the lineup after the healing of a foot fracture. They’ve done it while coach Doc Rivers is still trying to figure out rotations and dealing with a starter in P.J. Tucker who has lost almost all ability to score.
And yet here they are, probably one of the most complete teams in all of the league – and I don’t say that lightly. Let’s take a closer look.
During this 15-game stretch, Embiid has garnered player of the month honors for December and posted dominating scoring games of 53, 48, 44, 42 and 37, just to name a few. The team has averaged 119 points in the stretch and it all surrounds the playmaking of James Harden, who has been everything you probably could want out of a point guard as far as getting this offensively-talented group fully involved. Tobias Harris is having one of his finest offensive seasons, shooting better than 49 percent from the floor and 38 percent from three. De’Anthony Melton’s and Shake Milton’s offense has benefitted greatly from the style of this team and Georges Niang has had more open three-pointers this season than ever in his career, and has hit them at a 42% clip.
Oh yeah, and Harden seems to have found a little sliver of the fountain of youth, averaging 22 points and a league-leading 11 assists while playing 38 minutes a game.
A 24-15 record at this point might not bring people fully back to the Sixers just yet, after being distracted by the World Series run of the Phillies and a phenomenal season by the Eagles. But there could be something really good brewing with the Sixers.
Check it out.