Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between Philly and Toronto have huge ramifications for both franchises.
The Philadelphia Sixers have to take the next step in proving that “The Process” was a viable method of constructing a championship squad. Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals is a crossroads game for Sixers center Joel Embiid whose offensive prowess and health have been lacking in this series. How he performs in the most important game of his young career will go a long way in establishing his legacy going forward.
Embiid gets no bailouts on Sunday. The big man from Cameroon should have called home for auntie’s herbal remedy by now and should be at full strength.
Philly hasn’t advanced to an Eastern Conference Finals since A.I. carried a bag of biscuits to the NBA Finals against Kobe and Shaq in the 2000-1 season.
Toronto has been to the Eastern Conference Finals once in 2015-16. It was the height of the DeMar DeRozan-Kyle Lowry era.
The franchise has never been to an NBA Finals and Kawhi Leonard is likely leaving after this season. So this is probably the only shot Kawhi’s Raptors will ever have to win an NBA title. If Philly can win a Game 7, then Brett Brown can rest a bit easier and Elton Brand moves one game closer to accomplishing something historical as a first-year African-American GM.
The bold moves Brand made to help re-sign JJ Redick and acquire Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris will pay dividends if Philly can advance to an NBA final. Brand mortgaged the future a bit for the present. It wasn’t the overzealousness of youth that force his hand, but more about him trying to correct the terrible mistakes of the past without sacrificing winning and the growth of his foundation pieces.
If Philly can’t advance past Sunday’s Game 7, then Brand has some crucial decisions to make.
So far, Philly’s playoff performance has shown growth. From the way the team responded in the physical and antagonistic Brooklyn Nets series to the way they forced a Game 7 with Toronto
It also erases the painful memory of Philly’s past executive dysfunction. During The Process, Philly missed on a ton of draft picks.
In 2013, they wasted a sixth and 11th pick on Nerlens Noel and Michael-Carter Williams.
In 2015, they chose Jahlil Okafor over Kristaps Porzingis, Devin Booker, Terry Rozier, and Kelly Oubre Jr.
Rarely does a team get to blow so many picks but still manages to construct a championship contender.
Toronto, on the other hand, knows this year is probably a one-shot deal with Kawhi. The strongest indications say he wants to go back to California and that leaves the Lakers and the Clippers as a free agent destination.
Right now, he’s balling as well as any playoff player ever has. He’s totally engaged and trying to do something special for Canada, which has never had an NBA title-winning squad.
Game 7 is sure to be a classic. Everything’s at stake because once the season ends, both organizations have some franchise-changing decisions to make.