By Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
Yeah, despite the immortal rant of a former Philadelphia pro sports coach still cognizant in the cranium, we got playoffs on the mind right now.
With regard to a team 10 games under .500.
With its regular season more than half complete.
With its previous three seasons a testament to ineptitude of the highest order.
Take heart, though, Sixers fans, this is no mirage. Nor is it strictly wishful thinking.
The strides your squad is making are not only of the quantum leap variety, they’re also legit.
Bland uniforms aside, they currently rank among the hottest outfits in the NBA. Only three teams can match their 8-2 mark in the last 10 games, with Western Conference dynamos Golden State and San Antonio being two of them.
All told, the Sixers have won 10 of their last 13. They’ve inched within 5.5 games of eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings, the final spot available to them for the postseason. They have, arguably, the most entertaining, if not intriguing, player in the game with center Joel Embiid, a 7-2 man-child of a center whose skills seem limitless especially if he ever fully grows into his body and erases the gangly from his otherwise awesome athleticism.
Consider this, four of the Sixers’ victims during this current run of success would be playoff teams if the regular season ended today, and another three have better records right now than Philly’s hoops franchise, including Milwaukee, which has fallen twice to coach Brett Brown’s bunch in the last nine days.
A real selling point, though, on their chances to extend things beyond an April 12 finale in New York is that they just went 2-0 on a back-to-back without the services of their prodigal big man.
Plus, the Sixers are doing this with 2016 No. 1 overall draft pick Ben Simmons having yet to take the floor in a regular-season game because contributions are coming from everywhere. Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor, frustrated souls in search of more playing time, have been extremely productive when on the floor. Ersan Ilyasova has been a 15-point, 6-rebound revelation. Heck, even diminutive point guard T.J. McConnell, previously destined for a career of bench duty, has played well enough to make a mockery of those who had mocked him.
Pick any guy on the roster and he had his moments for this team. Positive moments.
The Sixers’ transformation from “oh, so close” losers earlier this season, when fading down the stretch seemed to be taking on ugly art-form fashion, to the energetic, upbeat, never-out-of-it group now has been nothing short of inspirational.
One need not look any further than the blossoming crowds, not to mention their reactions, at the Wells Fargo Center as this process goes on, as well as local and national publicity to grasp that.
So, playoffs? Yeah, they don’t seem out of the question anymore.
Embiid was on to something when he first suggested that earlier this month.