March 22, 2023
The Sixers rang off eight in a row with Chicago needing double overtime to finally snap that streak, Joel Embiid has been playing arguably the NBA's best basketball on a nightly basis to finally take a lead in the MVP conversation, and Philly is gunning after – and very much in – a tight race for the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed in the playoffs to try and finally prove that this year is going to be different.
They've been playing well down the stretch, extremely well, and the section of the basketball world that has been watching (George Karl) can't deny it.
So in a look at this week's power rankings, there are the Sixers right at the top.
Here's a roundup:
|ESPN||2||+1 (3)||MIL (1)|
|CBS Sports||1||- (-)||N/A|
|The Athletic||2||+1 (3)||MIL (1)|
|Sports Illustrated||2||+1 (3)||MIL (1)|
And a bit of what the national writers and analysts are saying:
What has made the Sixers so lethal during their recent hot streak is their effectiveness from mid-to-long range.
Joel Embiid is leading the charge closer inside, but the Sixers have plenty of options working in their favor the further out they get. It's also taken pressure off James Harden, who doesn't have to facilitate nearly as much, which may be important given his recent Achilles soreness.
Wrote John Schumann:
The Sixers are actually a below-average shooting team in the paint (57%, 19th), but they rank second in mid-range field goal percentage (46.1%)* and first in 3-point percentage (39%). Joel Embiid continues to make a living at the nail and his 49% from mid-range ranks third among the 21 players with at least 200 mid-range attempts. The Sixers also have three of the 19 players (Tyrese Maxey, Georges Niang and De’Anthony Melton) who’ve shot 40% or better on at least 300 3-point attempts, with four more that have shot 38% or better on at least 100.
This is the fourth time that James Harden has led a top-five offense, but the best thing about it is that Harden doesn’t have to be that guy for this team. His 10.8 assists per game aren’t a career high, but his 3.24 assist/turnover ratio is, and he’s seen a jump in true shooting percentage (61.7%) from last season (58.3%). [NBA.com]
The last time the Sixers faced the Nuggets and two-time MVP Nikola Jokić back in January, Embiid put on an absolute show.
Guess who's coming up on the schedule next week?
While Philly's eight-game winning streak ended Monday in double overtime against the Bulls, the 76ers still have the league's hottest player in Joel Embiid as they embark on a trip West with four games in six days -- one that ends with Embiid facing Nikola Jokic in Denver Monday night in an MVP showdown. [ESPN]
It isn't just that the Sixers have been winning a bunch either, they've been coming up clutch while they're doing, writes Harper:
The Sixers have taken off over the past couple months, and we’re seeing it in the way they approach clutch situations too. Last time we checked on them, they were 9-7 in the clutch with a +11.9 net rating. Those are good numbers and a record that should’ve probably been better than it was. They’ve gone 15-7 in the clutch since and increased their net rating to the second best. They own the best clutch defense in the NBA.
Joel Embiid might end up winning his first NBA MVP, and his clutch play certainly plays into that as well. It used to feel like you could get Embiid tired and he’d run out of steam at the end of games. Now? He’s managing every possession incredibly well, he’s navigating double teams with ease, and he gets to an easy midrange, pull-up jumper whenever he wants. [The Athletic]
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