Sixers Confident They Can Contend with Anyone
With the 2019 NBA playoffs just weeks away, the new-look Philadelphia 76ers are confident that they can contend with anyone in the league.
“I think it just gives us more confidence,” Ben Simmons said after the Sixers 118-115 victory over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. “We know that we can beat anybody in the league, it’s just a matter of doing it and having it on the paper and having that confidence going into playoffs. Confidence is key.”
That growing confidence within the Sixers that Simmons referred to isn’t irrational. Since January 31, the Sixers have defeated a host of the league’s best teams from both conferences: the West’s top-seeded Warriors in Oakland, and the second-seeded Denver Nuggets, and the playoff-bound Oklahoma City Thunder. During their current, season-long six-game winning streak, the Sixers have defeated three of the East’s other top teams – the Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Celtics.
Though their depth remains somewhat of a question mark, Philly’s first five is as formidable as any across the league’s landscape, and when rotations shrink in the postseason, that becomes increasingly important.
"We got some true talent in the starting lineup," Jimmy Butler said after the win over the Celtics. "I think, when you look down the line, we have a group of guys that can do something special if we're out there on the same page, we're all playing hard and we're all competing."
Following that statement victory over the Celtics on Wednesday night, the Sixers are 7-1 when their full starting five of Embiid, Simmons, Butler, Harris, and Redick plays together; a pretty impressive – albeit small – sample. But while the Sixers have been playing some impressive basketball, they are far from a finished product.
"I still think we're trying to figure things out a little bit, and I think we all sort of have to learn, I think, just the flow of the game at times is a little different than some of us are used to,” J.J. Redick said. “... Because I think the talent is there, and there's a real chance for cohesiveness, because I do think our skill sets complement each other."
Embiid, who has taken his game to another level this season, agreed that the Sixers aren’t yet where they want to be, but he’s eager to see how high they can climb.
"I think we're starting to play better with this new group," Embiid said. "We still got a long way to go, but I'm excited."
Follow Michael Kaskey-Blomain on Twitter @therealmikekb.