The Philadelphia 76ers are getting set to begin their season on Wednesday when they head down to the bayou and take on the New Orleans Pelicans and they will have to do so amid the drama surrounding Ben Simmons.
The embattled star was thrown out of practice on Tuesday after refusing to participate in a defensive drill. Coach Doc Rivers had had enough and he decided to send the disgruntled star home in order to protect the team and continue to move forward with practice.
As the Sixers prepare for opening night on Wednesday, they will have to focus on themselves and the group that they have. That is exactly what Rivers plans to do with his team.
“I gotta focus on our team,” said Rivers. “Not what could happen and I got to go focus on what’s happening now right now, right? So right now I’m telling you, our team is focused. That’s all I can do. I can’t tell you if they’re going to be focused in three weeks from now. You know what I’m saying? Right now, that’s a focused basketball team.”
Luckily for Philadelphia, they have proven veterans they can lean on. Guys such as Joel Embiid, Danny Green, Tobias Harris, Seth Curry, and others they can count on to be professionals and lead the way for this team.
“We got a pretty mature group,” said Curry. “Everybody’s leading in their own way and focusing on getting ready for the season. Tobias is doing his thing and Danny. We have a pretty together group as far leadership and a pretty mature group. We’ve been around each other for a year now so we know each other. It’s not that big a deal.”
For the Sixers, they have been playing some solid ball in the preseason and they will now have to carry this over to the regular season where the games will officially count. They have a lot of talent, but they will need to be able to move the ball on offense and find success that way.
“As a team, we are going to be fine,” said Embiid. “Like I said, we love playing with each other. You can see it in practice, the way we move the ball, you talk to each other, so yeah.”
The Sixers have enough shooting surrounding Embiid in order to succeed on the offensive end. It will be tough to get into sets without Simmons, but young Tyrese Maxey should be able to shoulder the load a bit and move on.
“We feel pretty good as a team,” Curry added. “The guys are out there working. We have what we have out there on the floor. It’s time to get ready and, me personally, I’m not really distracted or anything. Just going in and try to get ready for the game.”
One thing is for sure, despite the Simmons circus at the moment, the Sixers are going to continue to focus on the Pelicans to open the season.
“I think mentally, we’re very stable,” said Andre Drummond. “I think we’re ready to go. I think guys are prepared and excited to play and have a great season. I think we’re all ready to have a great year.”