The Philadelphia 76ers are off to the start they hoped for in the 2019-20 season. Here is why they’ve had early success.
Going into a new campaign, it was clear that defense would be the last thing that needed time to take shape in the Philadelphia 76ers’ slightly rebranded culture. It has showed.
Though the offense has stymied their overall dominance thus far, mainly with the floor spacing they’ve embraced in the past, their ability to penetrate and collect points inside has appeared to be getting them by nicely. But will it last? When does adding an additional outside shooter become a priority?
As Brett Brown noted before the season, the Sixers were going to play “smash-mouth” offense and he has truly stuck to that with how often he has fed his sizable members of the lineup the ball in the post.
While Horford has been the epitome of a veteran leader on both ends, Richardson and Thybulle — a pair of relentless two-way weapons — have had a special impact on the perimeter. The pair has combined for 19 steals and 17 blocks in four games.
Ben Simmons is coming off two games of stellar defense, as well, and looks to be the team’s most versatile player.
So to answer the question of: Does this team need an extra shooter? Perhaps not at the moment if this level of resiliency keeps up.
(Worth noting: Furkan Korkmaz stepped up for 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting on Wednesday.)
And quite differently from a year ago, they are closing out games with and without Joel Embiid. But mostly with.
What should come as no surprise, the All-Star center has pieced together yet another opening week brimmed with entertainment — a 15-point, 13 rebound double-double against the Boston Celtics in the home opener, was sidelined with an ankle injury in the victory against the Detroit Pistons, followed by a masterful all-around showing against the Atlanta Hawks and was ejected for brawling with Karl-Anthony Towns against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
What’s definitely encouraging is the 23 turnovers the Sixers forced against the Pistons without their 7’2” big man, as well as the 21 against Minnesota with him playing a little over a half.
All it took was a few October nights to sum up who Embiid is for the Sixers and who he’s likely going to be moving forward — the franchise player who can be called upon for essentially any in-game scenario.
In Monday night’s thriller against Trae Young and the Hawks, it came down to two simple, albeit clutch, free throws, which Embiid cashed with ease to seal the deal for his unbeaten squad.
After a Mike Scott ejection for a hard foul on Hawks big man Damian Jones on Monday, Embiid’s theatrics against the Timberwolves could potentially incite some bad blood between the Sixers and their opponents ahead.
But whether it’s better for the Sixers to be loved around the NBA or hated, the fact remains. They are 4-0.