Courtside with Aaron: Breaking news! The Sixers are a great [regular season] team!

Sure, the Sixers look great now, but I’m not holding breath until we head into playoffs


Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Charles Fox)

Joel Embiid fights for a rebound against the Pistons on January 10

Aaron Rigby, Sports Editor

Courtside with Aaron is a regular column featuring the perspective of Sports Editor Aaron Rigby.


What else is new?

The Philadelphia 76ers are on yet another winning streak of three games, after taking down the Los Angeles Clippers 120-110 last week. Thanks to a 41-point performance from Joel Embiid, 22 point outing for Tyrese Maxey, and a 20 piece from Tobias Harris, James Harden got away from criticism after he dropped a triple single. 

Harden, the third most voted all-star guard in the Eastern Conference dropped a whopping 6 points, 9 assists, and 3 rebounds in 32 minutes played. Though Harden has been on a major decline over the past 3 seasons, this is unusual for Harden and shouldn’t be expected to happen again, at least until the playoffs come around. 

Embiid on the other hand is having himself another MVP caliber season, averaging 33.6 points per game, just 0.2 points less than Luka Doncic who leads the league in scoring. He is also averaging 9.8 rebounds per game, and 4.2 assists per game. Despite the amazing statline, fans remain confused as to why Joel is barely top 5 in the current MVP conversation. Embiid has already missed 11 of the Sixers 44 games so far this season, which is more than likely the reason Joel is being held back from being considered in serious MVP talks. 

Embiid is not the only Sixer who has missed significant time; rising star Tyrese Maxey has missed 19 of the 44 games. In a mid-November game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Maxey landed awkwardly on his left foot after a transitional foul. He did not return to the game, and a next day MRI revealed a small fracture in his left foot. Maxey didn’t return to the court until December 30 against the New Orleans Pelicans, scoring 9 points on his minutes restriction. It is evident that he is still in the progress of getting back to his normal playing level, and is making good progress. 

Harden has also missed a significant amount of time, sitting out for 15 games due to a right foot tendon strain. 

The Sixers are now back to fully healthy, or at least the most healthy this team has been in months. Out of their last 10 games, they have won 8, and both of the losses came in home games where the opposing team should have been in no position to even compete with the Sixers. One of those losses came in a game against the Chicago Bulls, who are struggling this season due to the loss of their starting point guard Lonzo Ball. The Sixers were without Embiid for this game, but the Bulls being without their best player DeMar DeRozan evened the playing field. The Sixers should have defended home court and taken this game, but their inability to defend Zach Lavine on the 3-point line, and allowing him to go 11-13 from beyond the arc put them in no position to win the game, leading the Bulls to a blowout victory over the Sixers. 

The other loss came at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who seemed to not miss a shot against the Sixers. This loss was mainly due to the fact that nobody on the Sixers was playing like they wanted to win the game. The entire team was lacking effort throughout the majority of the game, and then they completely fell apart after the Thunder began to pull away in the third quarter. 

The Sixers are currently third in the Eastern Conference standings, but that could easily change within the next few weeks. This is the most competitive the league has been in a few years, and the difference between the three seed and the eight seed are within 6 games. 

And even if the Sixers do end the regular season with a top three seed, the team they play could potentially be almost on the same level as the Sixers and give them problems. Recent history shows that the Sixers regular season record already doesn’t mean anything, now it will mean even less. This season, for all teams, it is just  a matter of as long as they make the playoffs, they have a chance at achieving something great. 

But as far as I am concerned, we are still too early in the season to make a prediction on who will be in the championship conversation.