From the start of “The Process” there was one clear goal and that was to bring an NBA championship to Philadelphia for the first time since 1983.
It’s now been 8 years since Sam Heinke was given the reigns to the franchise as Sixers GM and his plan was put in place.
The organization has come a long way from the dark days of winning 10 games in a season and the Draft Lottery being the most exciting day of the year for the Sixers.
New GM Daryl Morey has done a great job of attaining floor-spacers around Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and the fruits of that process are becoming more evident with each playoff win.
The team also hired the well-respected Doc Rivers who has provided the team with a new identity, and if a few things fall right, they are in position to have their best shot at a championship since Allen Iverson singlehandedly led them to the NBA Finals in his MVP season of 2001.
But now they find themselves down 3-2 to a young Atlanta Hawks team, after blowing leads of 18 and 26 points in consecutive games, with the latter coming in Wednesday night’s Game 5 loss at home.
Their season hangs in the balance as they head back to Atlanta with the hopes of not being closed out.
Optimism is high, but something many folks don’t wanna look at is how often Doc Rivers-led teams have come up short. From his 2010 NBA Finals collapse up (3-2) to the Lakers when he was leading the Celtics to his 2012 collapse against the Heat, up 3-2.
How bout his 2015 failure, up 3-1 over the Rockets as the head coach of the Clippers.
Or just last season. That easily forgettable “NBA Bubble” collapse up 3-1 versus the Nuggets.
In the last two postseasons, teams led by Rivers have 5 of the 8 biggest blown leads in games.
But I digress.
Fast forward to how we got here. In the Eastern Conference you have the Nets with KD, Kyrie and Harden, and if healthy no one is beating this trio for years to come more than likely.
But never forget the Sixers declined to trade for Harden, instead opting to keep the offensively challenged Simmons and other pieces you must trade when a superstar is available.
Yes both the Sixers and Heat — who didn’t wanna trade Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson for a superstar in Harden — are now faced with the fact they’ll have to deal with him for the foreseeable future along with two other superstars in KD and Kyrie.
As I stated, franchise changers like “The Beard” don’t come available often, but when they do you have to give up something pretty big to nab them. In most cases they’re more than worth it. An Embiid, Harden and Harris big three would’ve been tough to stop.
But again I digress.
With Embiid’s injury history grabbing Harden should’ve been essential, and put this franchise in win-now mode even more.
The talent of the big Cameroonian is undeniable, but the way he gets hurt so often is worrisome.
And having a guy like Harden as his teammate would’ve taken a ton of pressure off Embiid whose body must be handled with care despite his size.
Simmons is a terrific player but his lack of shooting ability makes him a liability on that end of the floor.
He can’t be hidden against the better teams in the league when they have time to prepare for him in a seven-game series.
Simmons is Philly’s best playmaker but he can’t make free throws so he’s a non factor in crunch time.
Yes he’s a great defender capable of switching 1-5 but that’s not good enough to beat a Nets team or even the Bucks for that matter.
And the way it’s looking as of now it may not be enough to beat a Hawks team who besides Clint Capela and Lou Williams are getting their first taste of playoff basketball.
Game 6 is a franchise defining moment for the Sixers and their quest to win an NBA title and something tells me they won’t have any better chance going forward than this season.