The Sixers are 38-19 ahead of Thursday’s return to action against the 35-22 Memphis Grizzlies, who currently maintain second place in the NBA’s Western Conference.
38-19 amounts to a .667 winning percentage, which is probably a lot higher than anyone realized. It’s technically the best winning percentage they’ve had coming out of the All Star Break in the post-process era, tied with the 2020-2021 team that was 24-12 going into the pause and ultimately finished as the #1 seed in the East.
This Sixers team likely will not be the #1 seed, because Boston and Milwaukee are damn good and the Philly back-end schedule is really tough, but what it does suggest is that there should probably be more juice for this team based on their recent run of form. They’ve won 26 of their last 33 games, which is incredible, and they’re in much better position than almost every other recent Sixers team, which hit the break with these records:
- 2023: 38-19 (currently 3rd in East)
- 2022: 35-23 (finished as #4 seed)
- 2021: 24-12 (COVID year, finished as #1 seed)
- 2020: 34-21 (pre-bubble, finished as #6 seed)
- 2019: 37-21 (finished as #3 seed)
- 2018: 30-25 (went on huge late run to finish as #3 seed)
It’s not exactly a hot take to claim that the Sixers do better when fewer eyeballs are on them. If you recall, that 2020-2021 season began with no fans in the stands. They finished as the #1 seed. This season, they’re on a similar tear, and have done so in relative obscurity due to the fact that the World Series and Super Bowl runs diverted fan attention elsewhere. They’ve quietly gone about their business with minimal drama, which is probably a good thing, as Rich Hofmann noted on Tuesday’s Crossing Broadcast:
How much juice for the Sixers after the All Star break? Maybe flying under the radar was a good thing.
w/ @rich_hofmann on Crossing Broadcast: pic.twitter.com/jEScbzec7m
— Crossing Broad (@CrossingBroad) February 21, 2023
Make no mistake, this Sixers team is really good. They have star power in the starting lineup and depth to boot. In a vacuum, we’d all be excited about what we’re seeing on the floor.
It’s just hard to convince people that they should give their time and attention to the most recent iteration of a squad that has burned them so many times in the past. There isn’t a lot of belief in postseason Doc Rivers, hence the glut of fans that didn’t pay attention in the fall and winter. They’ve seen this movie before, and it’s a shitty movie, like Speed 2: Cruise Control. But the reality of the situation is that this team is playing the best basketball they’ve played in a long time, and so we’re hoping for a different movie this spring and summer. We’re hoping for Citizen Kane or The Shawshank Redemption.