Is it protected to start out believing within the Sixers as a respectable NBA Finals contender? The floor information appears to be like convincing. The Sixers lead the Jap Convention at 12-6 and Joel Embiid is on the quick record of MVP contenders. The Sixers are an ideal 9-0 once they have their complete beginning 5 of Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Danny Inexperienced, Tobias Harris and Embiid.
However the high quality of opposition has been, let’s say, questionable at greatest. Right here’s who the Sixers have overwhelmed in these 9 wins: Washington (twice), New York, Toronto, Orlando, Charlotte (twice), Boston with out Jayson Tatum and Detroit. You possibly can solely play the groups in your schedule, however the information are the information. Toronto is the one seemingly contender the Sixers’ beginning 5 has overwhelmed at full energy.
That brings us to Wednesday night time’s showdown with the Lakers. Assuming LeBron James and Anthony Davis each play, we’re lastly going to see how the Sixers measure up towards an elite crew. And make no mistake, the Lakers are elite. They lead the NBA with a plus-9.7 web score.
Marc Gasol has been Embiid’s kryptonite in recent times, however Embiid has gone up a stage and Gasol isn’t even taking part in 20 minutes per recreation for the Lakers. Will wee see the identical turnover points and poor capturing that plagued Embiid prior to now towards Gasol, or will the new-and-improved Embiid be capable to deal with Gasol one-on-one whereas making sensible, fast choices when double teamed? And in these minutes when Gasol is off the courtroom, will Embiid be capable to impose his will towards both Montrezl Harrell or Anthony Davis? If the Lakers select to place Davis on Embiid, the potential is there for Embiid to achieve into his bag of tips and check out to attract some fouls.
This would be the first take a look at for Embiid’s supporting solid towards one of many NBA’s stingiest defenses. I’m to see if the Sixers can create open appears to be like for Inexperienced and Curry and if these guys knock them down. Tobias Harris has been aggressive and assured in in search of his shot. Will we see that very same aggression tonight? If the Lakers make this a half-court recreation, Simmons must impose his will and assault at occasions, particularly in these minutes when Harrell is the final line of protection. And Daryl Morey will probably be watching to see if Shake Milton, Tyrese Maxey and Dwight Howard can maintain their very own towards a Lakers bench that includes Harrell, Kyle Kuzma, Markieff Morris and Alex Caruso.
On the opposite finish of the ground, you’d anticipate to see Simmons draw the first defensive project on James, leaving Harris and Embiid to cope with Davis. Avoiding foul hassle goes to be essential for all these guys. The Sixers have been phenomenal at “locking all home windows and doorways” in fourth quarters this season. If the sport is tight late, can the Sixers match the Lakers cease for cease?
The Sixers have put themselves in glorious place thus far by beating the groups they’re presupposed to beat. Now, we get to see how they measure up towards the NBA’s greatest, albeit solely one-quarter of the way in which by means of the season. Tonight’s outcome received’t be the ultimate examination or perhaps a mid-term, however it’s an early litmus take a look at to see how far they’ve come and the way far they nonetheless must go.