After a roller-coaster common season that received derailed with accidents after which the pandemic, the Philadelphia 76ers seem poised for a first-round flameout by the hands of the rival Boston Celtics. With regards to their struggles in opposition to the Celtics within the sequence, there’s loads of blame to go round. The play has been lackluster. The Sixers have already turned the ball over 27 instances and the protection has been marred by constant open makes an attempt — each on the rim and from the perimeter — for Boston. 

The teaching has been questionable, too. Brett Brown hasn’t altered the workforce’s pick-and-roll protection although the Celtics — specifically Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker — have been getting no matter they need out of the motion. It is also value asking that Raul Neto logged main minutes within the first half of what amounted to principally a must-win Recreation 2. That was a little bit of a head-scratcher. Whereas the gamers and training employees aren’t innocent, the struggles in opposition to Boston, and all through the entire season, are the direct results of constant front-office failures. 

Philadelphia’s entrance workplace noticed the route that the league was trending in, with an growing emphasis being positioned on floor-spacing and dynamic guard play, and in flip much less emphasis was being positioned on conventional put up play. They noticed all of this after which constructed a workforce that was utterly reverse of the favored paradigm.   

Regardless of years of constantly excessive draft picks, and copious picks generally, the Sixers largely opted in opposition to deciding on younger guards that would doubtlessly excel in at present’s recreation. Facilities have been chosen within the lottery on three consecutive years, two of which by no means panned out in Philadelphia and netted the Sixers little or no in return after they have been finally traded. Wing gamers with defensive instincts — gamers like Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Zhaire Smith — have been prioritized over guards with excessive upsides like Dejounte Murray or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.   

The Sixers finally tried to deal with their lack of guards able to initiating motion and flattening pictures whereas taking part in off of screens by buying and selling as much as choose Markelle Fultz with the highest decide within the 2017 draft. Fultz flamed out in Philly, and since then the Sixers have finished little to deal with the problem. The truth that they handed over Jayson Tatum, who’s destroying them on this first spherical sequence, to draft Fultz, and they traded a decide to take action, solely provides salt to the wound. 

In free company, as an alternative of pursuing gamers who complement their two greatest gamers in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the Sixers blew the financial institution on two gamers in Tobias Harris and Al Horford that are not able to constantly producing offense, that do not make life simpler for Embiid or Simmons, and simply usually do not elevate the ceiling of the workforce a lot, if in any respect. With Simmons sidelined this postseason following knee surgical procedure, each Harris and Horford have had a chance to step up, and each have failed miserably. As function gamers, each could be advantageous, however that is not how they’re being paid by the Sixers, and that is going to trigger main issues for the workforce for the foreseeable future. 

Horford is below contract for 3 extra years after this season. At 34, it is secure to say that he is not going to get any higher. If something, it seems as if he is slipping right into a late-career descent. Harris is below contract for 4 extra years. He’ll be paid $39 million throughout the 2023-24 season. Good luck buying and selling both a type of offers for near equal worth. 

To be able to get one other franchise to contemplate touching a type of contracts in a commerce, the Sixers must sweeten the pot significantly with different property. That is a troublesome ask, contemplating the truth that the group ran by nearly all of the cornucopia of property left to them by former normal supervisor Sam Hinkie whereas constructing the present iteration of the Sixers. In flip, the Sixers took what felt like limitless alternative and botched it alongside the way in which. In the long term, the 2019 offseason can be remembered as a disastrous one for Philadelphia if this retains up.  

So, the place do the Sixers go from right here? Brett Brown will probably be the autumn man after the season. Once more, he is not innocent within the workforce’s struggles this season. And after seven years possibly a brand new voice can be an enormous difference-maker for the workforce shifting ahead. On the very least, you alter the coach earlier than you attempt to commerce both Embiid or Simmons, as Brown is the one coach that the 2 have ever performed for professionally. Nevertheless, it could have been good to see how Brown handle a better-balanced roster, or one which he wasn’t constantly pressured to tweak on account of damage points. There was little organizational consistency since Brown got here to Philadelphia in 2013. In actual fact, the one fixed since Hinkie resigned in 2016 is unhealthy basketball selections made by the entrance workplace, whether or not it has been Bryan Colangelo or Elton Model calling the pictures.  

The Sixers overcame the most important hurdle with regards to constructing a contender within the NBA: Buying superstar-level expertise. In Embiid and Simmons, they’ve that. However since these draft choices have been made, the group has finished little to assist maximize the expertise — or potential — of these two gamers. As an alternative, poor selections each within the draft and in free company have left the Sixers ill-equipped to contend as at present constructed.  

So long as Embiid and Simmons are on the roster, all hope is not misplaced for Philly. Will probably be very robust for Philadelphia’s entrance workplace to enhance the roster round their two stars shifting ahead, and it hasn’t supplied a lot purpose for optimism with regards to their potential to take action. 


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