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Opinion: Are the Sixers the best team in the Eastern Conference?

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Opinion: Are the Sixers the best team in the Eastern Conference?

, USA TODAY
Published 1: 49 a.m. ET Jan. 28, 2021 | Updated 2: 45 a.m. ET Jan. 28, 2021

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The dramatic game-winner captured Tobias Harris’ important conviction in each and every his expertise and the map he handles stress. Harris drilled a 15-foot jumper to maintain the Philadelphia 76ers to a 107-106 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.

“That’s a shot I work on time and time again,” Harris talked about. “In these moments, it’s being assured ample to let it prance and being okay with the consequence.”

The Sixers regarded satisfied with the consequence. Philadelphia (13-6) beat a Lakers team (14-5) that has stood atop the Western Conference all season, had won all 10 of its avenue video games to this point and has shown runt signal of slowing down after winning the NBA championship factual 3½ months in the past.

“It’s gigantic. You obtained the best team with the best file in the league and they’re the defending champs,” Sixers middle Joel Embiid talked about. “It’s going to give us a quantity of self belief for the subsequent couple of video games.”

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Yet, how the Sixers beat the Lakers will moreover give them something to think about these subsequent couple of video games and previous. When assessing their huge-picture attainable, will Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers model out the bottom-line consequence, the quality of opponent and Harris’ game-winner? Or will he turn into consumed with the proven truth that the Sixers virtually squandered a 16-point lead?

“I’m a coach so it’s clearly the latter,” Rivers talked about. “No longer to contain anything from them, but I thought it used to be extra self-inflicted.”

All of which makes the Sixers’ identity an interesting puzzle to determine out.

Obtain they own the correct personnel and makeup to remain the Eastern Conference’s best team as their file indicates? Or does their roster mild want to indicate it’s going to maintain sturdy and maximize its chemistry?

“We own the attainable,” talked about forward Danny Inexperienced. “We own another. We own the talent. We own the gadgets.”

The Sixers certain attain.

They own Embiid, who has posted occupation-highs this season in points per game (27.7), field-aim share (54.6%), 3-point share (40%), free-throw shooting (83.4%) and steals per game (1.2). They own Ben Simmons, whose positional versatility and playmaking leaves Rivers impressed no topic a occupation-low in scoring (13 points per game). They own a doubtless third All-Star in Harris, whose previous stint with Rivers on the Los Angeles Clippers has partly contributed to his skill to manufacture bigger his game and find the correct spots on the ground to turn into unhealthy. They own extra shooters (Seth Curry, Inexperienced) and defenders (Matisse Thybulle) to manufacture it more straightforward for Embiid and Simmons to characteristic.

Maybe that explains why Sixers president Daryl Morey resisted the temptation to reunite with James Harden when he demanded the Houston Rockets alternate him. Maybe that explains why Lakers forward LeBron James views the Sixers as a fearless NBA Finals threat after losing to them.

“We’ll trace how the season goes on,” James talked about. “There’s going to be a quantity of teams in the Eastern Conference that may be playing championship basketball down the stretch. I do know I imagine that they are a kind of teams.”

Nonetheless can the Sixers beat the other teams?

The Boston Celtics own a young core that has shown continuous enchancment in Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Dapper, but they misplaced Gordon Hayward in free company, and Kemba Walker has nursed varied injuries. The Milwaukee Bucks own the two-time defending frequent-season MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo and improved depth with Jrue Vacation’s arrival. Nonetheless Antetokounmpo has regressed statistically this season and has struggled in the two previous postseasons. The Brooklyn Nets own three of the most lethal scorers and playmakers in Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving. Nonetheless they own runt to give on protection, and Harden and Irving can even at remaining own stress over photos.

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In the interim, the Sixers own a coach who knows systems to encourage his gamers, a distinguished particular person tandem intent on improving its chemistry and a supporting cast that will most certainly fabricate it more straightforward for Philadelphia to trust the process.

“We in truth feel luxuriate in we now own ample to get it finished to come relief out of the East,” Inexperienced talked about. “Then to face against any of these Western teams, we now own the depth.”

And but, the Sixers own shown to this point this season they can even just not own ample depth.

The Sixers misplaced all four of their video games that Embiid overlooked with a relief injury. The Lakers’ comeback coincided with Embiid taking a fall after some bodily play from James that Embiid contended can even just mild own been a flagrant 2. And as grand as Dwight Howard resuscitated his occupation remaining season with the Lakers, he doesn’t own what it takes to own what he once used to be as a perennial All-Star.

Simmons’ payment will consistently come from his intangibles. Nonetheless he has not shown grand willingness to turn into a shooting threat. Home-court docket revenue has turn into a moot point in a season with runt to no followers in the building, but the Sixers own been assorted teams at home (10-1) and on the avenue (3-5). And despite the proven truth that all teams are liable to diminished depth charts because of the the pandemic, the Sixers misplaced two video games with barely ample wholesome gamers on their roster.

So when Harris made the dramatic shot, the Sixers had two assorted feelings. They regarded relieved it covered up a previous mistake the build James came upon an originate Anthony Davis for an straightforward layup on the outdated possession. They moreover seem convinced they own what it takes to be resilient through varied pitfalls.

“It says we’re a upright team,” Rivers talked about. “It exhibits we’re in truth upright, but we now own a quantity of labor mild.”

Note USA TODAY NBA creator Designate Medina on Twitter, Fb and Instagram.

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Opinion: Are the Sixers the best team in the Eastern Conference?

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