Monday, October 3, 2022

Sixers stars Joel Embiid & James Harden draw attention to possible “blow-ups”.

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As well as being consistent finalists, the Philadelphia 76ers boast one of the league’s strongest lineups with James Harden, Joel Embiid and rising warden Tyrese Maxey.

Harden is a former MVP whose style of play should complement Embiid’s game. For his part, Embiid is an annual MVP nominee, becoming the first center to win the scoring title since Shaquille O’Neal last season. And then there’s Maxey, who may be stolen in his third year after blowing the lights out of the ball last season.

Add Tobias Harris and PJ Tucker to round out the starting five, plus solid depth in Georges Niang, De’Anthony Melton, Montrezl Harrell and Matisse Thybulle, and this Sixers team looks loaded.

But for all that star power, the Sixers have yet to make it past the second round of the playoffs with Allen Iverson leading the charge. But according to Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz, there are strong arguments that the Sixers are legitimate finalists. But at the same time, the team’s volatility and injury history could make them mere “hypocrites” with “blow-up potential.”

If Philadelphia is truly competitive next season, it’s likely because its stars are doing well. But the team’s hopes could also be dashed by a bad game by the same players. Embiid could miss time through injury and some of Harden’s best playoff moments have come off the floor with him.

And as Swartz pointed out, let’s not forget head coach Doc Rivers, who has had a checkered history of his own in the postseason.

“Between some of Harden’s playoff meltdowns, Doc Rivers’ recent postseason coaching, and Embiid’s injury history, there’s a lot of potential for explosion here,” Swartz wrote.

“Harden has shot just 40.2 percent overall with Philadelphia in the regular season and 40.5 percent in the playoffs, and at 33 he’s a far cry from the offensive power he was a few years ago. Still an elite playmaker, Harden has to keep stepping back and letting players like Embiid and Maxey take the primary goalscoring roles.”

But Sixers boss Daryl Morey didn’t spend the summer and the last trading deadline assembling a team with “explosion potential.” Because of this, despite some fluctuations in the lineup and on the touchline, the Sixers still received the ultimate vote of confidence from Swartz.

If all goes according to plan, Philadelphia should find itself back in contention for the Larry O’Brien Trophy, according to Swartz.

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