What are you initial impressions of the Sixers’ starting lineup?
How would you rank the current Sixers roster with Toronto, Boston, and Milwaukee?
26 games left, how do you expect the Sixers to finish? Would you be disappointed if they didn’t make the NBA Finals?
Chris Deibler @mrcrockpot
MOTHER OF GOD
My initial impression has to be: “(Super Troopers GIF) Mother of God.” As a Sixers fan, this is, without a doubt, the most talented starting five I’ve ever seen. Now it’s only been two games, but I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the ball movement and spacing that I’ve seen so far. Tobias’ ability to space the floor, play off Embiid, as well as play pick and roll with Jimmy has been truly impressive.
Personally, I cannot wait to see the numbers within a couple of weeks. The Sixers should easily have one of the most efficient offenses in the league. In just their second game, the Sixers had an efficiency percentage of 63.90%. I know the Lakers play zero defense, but that was the most efficient on offense the Sixers have been ALL SEASON. Pretty cool, right? But from the eye test, Tobias Harris seems to be the modern, hybrid four that the Sixers have so desperately needed all this time.
THE SIXERS MUST STOP THE BLEEDING
I’m a biased Sixers fan, but even I cannot put the Sixers over the Raptors or Celtics. I’m not afraid of the Bucks. I think we matchup with them fairly well. The Raptors and Celtics have been the Sixers Daddy for way too long. It truly stinks that Kyrie isn’t playing against the Sixers on Tuesday. Having a defender to stop Kyrie is really the only weakness I can see on the current Sixers roster.
If I had to rank the East the rest of the season, it would go 1) Toronto, 2) Celtics, 3) Sixers, 4) Bucks. I’m in show-me mode right now with our team. The Sixers have let me down countless times over the past two years against these teams. The bleeding has to stop.
Would I be disappointed if we don’t make the NBA Finals? Right now, no. We still have a lot to prove, but I definitely foresee a situation where the Sixers very clearly look like the best team in the East within the next two months. I need to see more before I make any real predictions, but the way Jimmy Butler and Tobias have flowed ever so effortlessly in the offense has been spectacular.
Matt Schorr @purebooyah
SHOCK AND AWE
My first impression of the new look 76ers, like everyone else, is shock and awe. We all knew we were getting an all-star caliber player in Tobias Harris, but I don’t think everyone realized how perfect his fit is with this team. Harris is a capable ball-handler, can play off the ball, and is an elite isolation shooter.
Aside from his obvious scoring capabilities, he creates space in a way that Chandler was not capable of creating. When Embiid hands off to Redick, there is less attention because there is yet another major scoring threat on the floor.
THE BEST SIXERS SQUAD SINCE 2001
Butler has also looked much happier since the addition of Harris thanks to the new rotations Brett Brown has employed. The Sixers have the incredible ability to have two All-Star caliber players on the floor at any one time. As of right now, I truly believe that the Sixers have the best starting five in the East. I still think the Raptors overall are a deeper team, but I think our talent can win out in a seven game series.
The Sixers won 52 games last year. I fully expect them to match or exceed that total this year. In order to achieve that goal, they must win 16 of the remaining 26 games. The Sixers schedule gets considerably easier following Tuesday night’s matchup against the Celtics. I think making the Finals has to be the goal with this team, and anything less will be disappointing.
This is the best team the Sixers have had since 2001, and in many ways, this team may be better. As this team continues to learn how to play with each other, they will continue getting better and scarier for all opposing teams.
J Blevins @jblevinspfo
First impression is that this roster gives Brett Brown far more options from a lineup combination standpoint than the Sixers may have ever had. The starting/finishing five is loaded with players who can beat teams in multiple ways. Unlike last year, where the late addition of Bellinelli was only as good as his hot hand on a given night, this team no longer relies on any single player to get hot and carry them.
Tobias Harris and JJ Redick spread the floor in a way that should create more space and larger lanes for Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler to drive. The additions also make it much more deadly to double Joel Embiid in the post since there are precious few options to leave unguarded.
We also cannot discount how much this helps TJ McConnell. He will have much more cover and options for when he plays. I predict TJ becomes a much more effective player as a result of some of these moves. Jonathon Simmons is another player I think is overlooked and could really create matchup problems for others in certain playoff series.
Eric Marturano @TheEMart
BOY OH BOY
My biggest initial impressions of this new starting lineup is boy oh boy, will this make life easy for JJ Redick. One of the first things I noticed in attending their debut vs. the Nuggets was how the addition of Tobias Harris opens the floor for one of the best three-point shooters in the league to get easy looks. Throw in the fact that Harris is shooting something like 44% on the year from three-point-land, and this lineup simply has too many ways to win.
Now, doubling Embiid means leaving two deadly shooters (Redick, Harris) and scorers (Butler, Harris, Simmons) open all over the floor. Good luck to the rest of the league! Accordingly, I would rank this current iteration of the Sixers roster as the team to beat in the East. We’ll see how Boston defends them on Tuesday, but “remove Ben Simmons” from the equation is no longer a simple option (much to Ben’s credit – he’s really turned a corner this last month!).
I would re-rank the top of the East as follows: the Sixers roster first, followed by Toronto (now complete with old & slow Marc Gasol!), then Boston (still very talented & well coached), then Milwaukee (they are frauds, and you can’t convince me otherwise, no matter how many times you DM me about Khris Middleton).
RUN WITH US
Ahead of the season, I predicted that the Sixers would win 57 games (I also predicted Milwaukee would win 44, so take that with a giant grain of salt). As I write this, they’re 36-20 and on pace for 53 wins. The two recent wins with their current roster indicates to me that they’ll out-perform that 53 win pace, so my initial prediction of 57 games seems about right. Until they lose at full strength, they sky seems like the limit for these Sixers.
My expectation coming into this season was “make the Eastern Conference Finals,” and that remains to be the case. However, this team has the talent to not only go to the Finals, but win them. Three years removed from their infamous 10-win season, the Sixers are just beginning to reap The Results of The Process.
Austin Krell @AustinKrellNBA
THE YOUNG GUNS
My biggest initial impression is that the Sixers have this unique combination of youth and stardom. Ben Simmons is 22, Joel Embiid is 24, Tobias Harris is 26, and Jimmy Butler is 29. That’s four starters younger than 30 who are 6’8” or bigger. JJ Redick is 35, but he’s 6’3”. So what does this mean? This means they have the ability to keep two star-level players on the court AT ALL TIMES.
Even after making a lot of noise at the trade deadline, the Sixers’ bench is still inadequate, if we’re being objective. If they add one more shooter on the buyout market, that will help, but they will still be very average at best. But having such a young core enables Brett to mix two all-star-caliber players on the court whenever he has to bring second-unit players in. No other team has that.
I think the overall roster is probably still the fourth best of the East’s four contenders. The bench is that weak. All of Milwaukee, Toronto, and Boston have multiple players on their bench that can give you 20 points on any given night. But, as I said, the core is young enough to play 32-34 minutes per game. So their bench really doesn’t have to play more than 15 minutes per game.
The overall roster is probably the weakest of the four, but the rotation of players who will play significant minutes every game is as good as any in the conference, or even the league for that matter.
A MAJOR RUN IS COMING
I expect them to win at least 22 of their final 26 games. They’ve remained strong through the toughest 12-game stretch of their season. 20 of the 26 are against teams that are below .500. 10 are against teams that are vying for a playoff spot. 7 are against legitimate contenders. They beat Golden State in their gym, they only lost by 2 to OKC before acquiring Tobias Harris. Then they blew Houston out without Jimmy Butler. They were blown out by Portland on the road without Embiid. If the Sixers are legitimate contenders, they will finish the season at least as strong as they finished last season.
ELTON HAS PUT THE LEAGUE ON NOTICE
Do I think they can get to the Finals? Yes, I do. Would I be disappointed if they don’t? No. The East is the strongest it’s been in well over a decade. I can live with bowing out in the Conference Finals as long as it is a 6- or 7-game series. Home-court advantage will play a role in where I stand moving forward. If the Sixers can get to the 2-seed, I demand the Eastern Conference Finals and might even expect to be in the Finals. But if they remain the 3-seed, they’d have to win two rounds on the road. That’s tough for anyone, and we’re about to find out if they are game.
No matter what, Elton Brand and the Sixers have put the entire league on notice this season, especially in the last week.
Ben Dunst @bpdunst
PACE AND SPACE, BABY
My initial reaction has been alllll about the space. The floor looks totally different out there. Embiid has had space to move, McConnell is finding space to pull up, and plays seem to blow up less. Adding a second 40%+ 3pt shooter has transformed the way the Sixers are attacking.
I would place the starting lineup as best in the East, but the roster is likely a step behind Toronto and Boston. The Sixers roster has surpassed Milwaukee’s on paper, but Budenholzer has them playing better than the sum of their parts. I think all four teams are close.
ALMOST OUT OF THE DEATH STRETCH
The Sixers are nearly out of the Death Stretch. After that, the schedule lightens up significantly. The team could finish right around 53, 54 wins. They seem destined for the 3 seed. The Finals aren’t the whole shebang for me; an ECF appearance and contracts for Harris and Butler would satisfy me. If they don’t make it to the big one, reset and reload for next year. A second-round exit would hurt, however.