“Process This,” says the cover of the new Sports Illustrated, featuring Joel Embiid, JJ Redick, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, and Tobias Harris.
“The Sixers Are Finally All In” reads the subheading, or whatever you want to call it. The latest SI re-previews the top-heavy Eastern Conference, where 7.5 games separate the 5th place Sixers and 6th place Nets.
Opponents will have to completely rethink the Sixers, down to the nuts-and-bolts mechanics that make their steampunk offense work. We should too. Throw out the underwhelming point differential, the usual matchup counters, the old narratives. As the dynamics change within many of the East’s top teams, the dynamics among those franchises must as well. Boston can’t rely on its edge over Philly from previous encounters—including last spring’s second-round win—just as Milwaukee can’t draw too much from its 3–1 season series advantage over Toronto. The teams who shared that history are gone, swept away by the opportunity at hand.
Well, the old narratives and matchup counters are still valid for Boston. Al Horford got the better of Embiid last week. The Celtics hunted JJ Redick on their offensive possessions and the Sixers didn’t do much in transition. Even with the addition of Harris and Butler, a lot of the same problems the Sixers have with the Celts reared their ugly heads last Tuesday. That’s on Brett Brown to figure out down the home stretch here.
But it’s cool to have the Sixers on the cover of Sports Illustrated, just three-years removed from that miserable 10-win season.
It’s been more than a decade since the franchise made an SI cover, and look who was featured:
the last time there was a 76ers centric sports illustrated cover pic.twitter.com/HGePGIh6Jw
— kurt (@kurtwearshats) February 19, 2019
How far can Elton Brand take the Sixers? He did his job, now it’s up to Brett and the players.