The Best Show Ever?: Weekdays 2pm – 6pm

The Best Show Ever?: Weekdays 2pm – 6pm

The Best Show Ever?: Weekdays 2pm – 6pm

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 07: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers blocks a shot against Derrick White #9 of the Boston Celtics during the first quarter in game four of the Eastern Conference Second Round Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on May 07, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

One more win. That is all the Sixers need to break a 22-year-old drought. The last time the Sixers made it out of the second round was in 2001. When Allen Iverson and the Sixers beat the Raptors to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. And it starts tonight, with game 6 vs the Celtics.

So many times in this Sixers era have we had our hearts pulled out. It started in 2018, the start of the Embiid and Simmons era. They got knocked out in just 5 games. But the next season they added Jimmy Butler, and later Tobias Harris. They took the eventual champions Toronto Raptors to 7 games. But a Kawhi Leonard 3, that bounced 4 times, beat the buzzer to break Sixers fan’s hearts again. Two years later was supposed to be the year. All they had to do was get through the Hawks. But Ben Simmons imploding ruined our hopes once again. And last year, an Embiid injury killed any hopes the Sixers had vs the Heat.

But all of that could end tonight. The Celtics are coming to Philadelphia. And if the Sixers can beat them, they will break the curse. So can they do it?

There is good reason to be confident. We all saw how great they looked in game 5. And they outplayed them for most of game 4 too, before a bad 4th quarter made things closer than they had to be. You don’t want to say it, because we have heard it before. But this could, and should, be the year.

If you don’t believe me, give me a chance to try and convince you. We already talked about why everything that happened in game 5 is sustainable. But if that was not enough, here are 6 more numbers that should make you confident that the Sixers will win game 6, and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

  • 6

    The truth is, the Sixers have been outplaying the Celtics for a couple of games now. They outscored them in 3 of the 4 quarters in game 5. The one the Celtics won was the 4th quarter. And in that, the Celtics had their deep bench in, so it doesn’t really count. In Game 4, again it was just the 4th quarter that they lost. That one does count, cause the Sixers looked awful letting the Celtics get back into it. But they settled down enough to force OT and then won OT. The two teams tied at 33 points a piece in the 3rd quarter. So that is 6 of the last 9 quarters. including Overtime, that the Sixers have won.

    They are playing better than the Celtics right now. It has shown on the court, and it has shown in them winning the last two games.

  • 1.15

    In game 5, the Sixers ran 53 picks and rolls between Embiid and either Maxey or Harden. You may have noticed those plays worked really well. So well the Sixers averaged 1.15 points per play. Joel Embiid got open shots around the Free Throw line 7 times off those picks and hit 4 of them. Both Maxey and Harden got open 3s off them, and both shot very well from deep. Even more lead to fouls and free throws.

    It is lethal and nearly unstoppable. Which is nothing new. They were doing it all season. But it was the first time this series we saw it work that well. Embiid getting the knee brace off may have helped with that, allowing him to move better. But as long as the Sixers have that going, it is incredibly hard to stop them. Either Embiid is getting an open shot, you are giving Harden space to drive, or giving Harden/ Maxey space to shoot.

  • 30.8%

    Embiid being healthier, and back in the paint on defense, is making a huge difference. We saw how vulnerable the Sixers paint was without him. It was like an open invitation into the paint for the Celtics. And while him returning helped, his mobility was limited the first few games because of that brace. But in the last game, Embiid was back in full, with no brace. And you could see his impact on Defense. The Celtics shot just 8 of 26 when he was the primary defender. 30.6% from the field. 4 of the misses came on Embiid blocks.

    That isn’t even counting all the times the Celtics drove into the paint but then had to pick up their dribble and pass out because Embiid stepped into the path. He may have been left off the All-NBA Defensive teams, but Embiid can be one of the best defensive players in the league when he wants to be.

  • +21

    In that same vein, just in general, the Sixers pummelled the Celtics in game 4 when Embiid was on the floor. +21 in his minutes. They just have no answer to him on either end. Al Horford is too old and slow to keep up with him. And everyone else is too small. He had 33 points in Game 5. And you should not be surprised if he goes off for even more tonight.

  • 8

    It has been a thing that James Harden struggles on one day of rest. And tonight is just one day of rest. But the good news is James Harden did not really have to exert himself too much in game 5. He took just 8 shots. Being able to take it easy in game 5, may help him keep his legs in game 6. It is also now two straight games where he looked good despite playing one day of rest. He went off for 42 points in game 4. And then while he scored just 17 points in 5, he looked good while doing so.

    Hopefully, that all means that the Harden from games 2 from 3 won’t show his face again, and at the very least we get the efficient game 5 Harden.

  • 84.1%

    The team that wins game 5 after the series was tied, goes on to win the series 84.1% of the time. Obviously, that is what the Sixers did. One caveat is that the Celtics became one of those 15.9% last year vs the Bucks. Can they beat the odds twice though? The Sixers are in the driver’s seat. They are playing better basketball right now. The odds they pull this off, are really good. Not a lock of course. But there is good reason to be confident.

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