76ers Now the Favorites in East?

Staff Writer: Corey Darko

Philly made a blockbuster trade on February 6 2019 as they were able to trade for Los Angeles Clippers forward Tobias Harris in exchange for future draft picks, Wilson Chandler and Laundry Shamet. On paper, this was an excellent trade for Philly as Harris is a 21 ppg scorer, a great shooter (shooting 43.6 percent from 3) and can play with and without the ball. Which fits well next to Ben Simmons, who is ball dominant. With this move, are the Sixers the new eastern conference favorites? Let’s break it down.

butlerharris

New teammates Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler still trying to gain chemistry with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

Credit: NBA.com

Projected Lineup: Looking at their projected lineup of Simmons, JJ Reddick, Jimmy Butler, Harris and Joel Embiid, it’s safe to say Philly clearly has the most talented lineup in the Eastern Conference and arguably right behind Golden State as the best starting lineup in the NBA.

On paper, this is a lineup made in heaven as Reddick is a great catch-and-shoot player, Butler is a great all-around player, Harris is a gifted scorer on and off the ball, Embiid is the best center in basketball right now and Ben Simmons’s elite vision perfectly complements this lineup.

While there are concerns with how quick the pieces fit as the 76ers are still having aa little trouble integrating Jimmy Butler and are now adding another player in Harris who is getting traded from a team in which he was the first option. Despite those concerns, the Sixers lineup boasts too much versatility and talent to not eventually jell and figure it out and when they do this lineup will be a problem for every team in the NBA.

Woodstock High School senior Cole Smith stated, “They might have the most talented starting 5 in the NBA.”

Embiid

Al Horford has had Embiid’s number in their past few encounters.

Credit: sixersense.com

Bench: The Sixers bench still isn’t great, but they did improve their bench during the trade deadline by adding Mike Scott, who is a good shooter, and Jonathon Simmons, who is a glue guy type player and plays his heart out every game.

They also have another solid, high-effort backup point guard in TJ McConnel, a stretch 5 who can switch everything in Jonah Bolden and an athletic backup wing who can stretch the floor in James Ennis. The Sixers bench is set up to no longer be a liability it has been for them all season. Despite still not being a great bench as it is still lacking consistent shooting, their bench of full of tough hard-nose defenders who play with high effort.

Simmons

Adding a jumper is crucial to Ben Simmons’s development and Philly’s title hopes.

Credit: PennLive.com

Biggest threats: Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors. Despite the added talent, Philly still has to prove they can beast these three teams as they have all owned Philly this year.

Boston especially has owned Philly ever since the last year’s playoffs as their defense matches up well to take away Embiid and Simmons. For Embiid, Al Horford has been his kryptonite with his ability to stretch the floor to take him out of the paint and his muscle to contain Embiid in the post. For Simmons, his lack of a jumper is exposed against teams like Boston as they have enough big bodies to keep him out of the paint and enough length to force him to commit turnovers, an issue that has plagued him.

Bringing in Butler and Harris does help against Boston with their abilities to create their own shot consistently and both being good shooters, but even with Harris and Butler, Simmons and Embiid must prove they can consistently produce against Boston’s stout defense.

Woodstock High School junior Shane Zachos stated, “Philly’s inability to beat Boston will keep them from making the Finals.”

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TJ McConnel will be an important X-factor off the bench for Philly if it hopes to make a deep playoff run.

Credit: 6abcphiladelphia.com

In terms of Milwaukee, it’s like their issues against Boston except more so for Simmons.  The rest of the roster honestly matches up well with Milwaukee as Brook Lopez on Embiid is a mismatch, Butler’s amazing perimeter defense can contain Khris Middleton and Harris’ has the shooting ability to take Giannis Antetokounmpo out the paint.

However, Milwaukee’s ridiculous athleticism and length present problems for Simmons as once again his lack of a jumper is exposed against teams with big bodies and length. While Lopez in no way can guard Embiid, his shooting ability forces Embiid to step out of the paint, leaving the lane open for Giannis to dominate. This matchup will really come down to Simmons not underperforming.

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James Ennis’s ability to stretch the floor and play defense off the bench will also be crucial to Philly’s playoff run.

Credit: Liberty Ballers.com

Finally, Toronto is a team outside of Boston that Philly flat out doesn’t match up well with. Philly’s questionable depth is exposed against Toronto as the Raptors has one of the deepest benches in the NBA.

Toronto’s starting lineup also matches up well with Philly as Kawhi Leonard can shut down Ben Simmons, Kyle Lowry’s physical nature can contain JJ Reddick, Danny Green has always been one of the best 3-and-D players in the game as he can give Butler problems, Pacal Siakem’s length can bother Tobias Harris Marc Gasol’s foot speed and size can deal with Embiid down low.

Woodstock High School senior Isaiah Hall even stated, “Toronto is the worst matchup for Philly due to how much size and length they possess.”

Conclusion: Philly, when they’re on, has the most talented starting 5 in the NBA in terms of versatility, size, athleticism and shooting. However, until they prove they can beat Boston or Toronto, I can’t call them the favorite to win the east despite them clearly having the talent to win the east they are a combined 1-5 against Toronto and Boston. Their bench also must prove they have the depth to hang with a Milwaukee team loaded with depth. However, Philly clearly did better their chances to win the East with the addition of Harris.

 

Sports Notebook: Women’s Basketball Season Ends In Playoff Nail Biter

Lead story: The promising girls basketball season ended in a unfortunate note as they lost in a heartbreaker in the state tournament 61-55 to Colquitt County. This shouldn’t take away from their season however as they once again made the playoffs and had an overall solid season. Senior Monique Boyce stated, “The fact the girls team has consistently made the playoffs has built a winning culture.”

In case you missed it: The baseball team is coming off their worst loss of the season so far with an 11-3 loss to Sequoyah. However, they were on a 3-game winning streak prior to that loss and are still 5-2 on the season. The team did bounce back with a 2-0 win over Harrison and now are sitting on 6-2.

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