Well, it all comes down to this. When conjoined this duo formulates the best two words in all of sports: Game. Seven.
All the marbles on the line, win or go home. Legends are born, hearts are broken, and history is made. Bird, Magic, Jordan, Kobe, Iverson, LeBron, and….Embiid? Possibly.
This stage presents an opportunity for the best players to make some of the best plays in the most important games. For Sixers fans however, those two words don’t flood the memory banks with much excitement as franchise has lost 10 of the last 16 game sevens they’ve been involved in. Including the most recent…..sorry.
Well, if your hopes are down, I present you with a possible silver lining. When Kawhi Leonard propelled the Toronto Raptors over the Sixers in that infamous game seven, there was one specific ingredient missing to tilt perfection. Unlike this season, that game took place approximately 500 miles away from the friendly confines of Wells Fargo Center. Of course this wouldn’t have guaranteed victory for the Sixers–the same can be said for this season–however, it’s worth noting that Philadelphia has won its last four game sevens at home.
During the Sixers most recent NBA Finals run the team had to conquer two of these such battles. Including, much like this season, a back and forth seven game series against a formidable Eastern conference foe and one of the leagues rising stars.
Many will tell you that despite boasting multiple award winners including the NBA’s Most Valuable player, the Sixth man of the year, the Defensive player of the year and the best record in the Eastern Conference that this iteration of the Philadelphia 76ers was not viewed as a legitimate finals contender. The same argument could be made about this year’s roster before the season began, at least that was the narrative.
Prior to the start of the NBA season, I had a lengthy conversation with a dear colleague. During this chat I asked him to give me his opinion on how the East would play out, basically his rankings for the teams in the Eastern Conference heading into the season. Well, you’d be surprised to find out that this peer had the Sixers ranked as the sixth best team in the Eastern Conference. There weren’t many words to explain the feeling I had leaving that conversation— baffled would be the one word that could do some justice. ‘Why?’ I asked? And to little surprise his answer remarked the thought process of many when asked about the prospects of a potential Sixers title run. Questions about the franchise cornerstones and many of the players surrounding them. Many of these questions are ones that are still being asked as the Sixers journey throughout this current playoff run.
“Embiid doesn’t stay healthy, Simmons can’t be relied on, and if your stars aren’t clicking how dependable are your role players really?”
A bunch of fair concerns, right?
Embiid up until this point has only played an average of 52 games a year annually over a five year span. So it’s been both concerning and admiring to see how dominant he’s been on a nicked up meniscus.
There is a fair conversation to be had about Ben Simmons and the questions surrounding his development since he’s entered the league. Doc Rivers has said he doesn’t understand all of the chatter about Simmons and his production, but it’s interesting to see a 20 year old rookie taking valuable playoff minutes from one of your two franchise players down the stretch.
And as for the role players? We’ve seen in multiple years past that it seems Philadelphia will only go as far as their two young stars take them. This once again seems to be the case as aside from a phenomenal stretch by Seth Curry, Philadelphia has struggled to find consistency in particularly from the bench unit.
Yet we’re here.
But for one game, one day, and the most important 48 minutes of this season — none of that matters.
It all comes down to one game. One opportunity.
The opportunity to expunge the demons from 2 years ago. The opportunity to write the next chapter in the story of the process. And the opportunity to finally surmount the obstacle that has frequently gridlocked this team.
Back at Wells Fargo Center with a packed house, with the road a bit less onerous with the recent elimination of the Monstars Nets. Oh, and did we forget? NO RED JERSEYS!
Death, Taxes, & Sixers in seven.
“Our fans will be ready for Game seven. All that is well and good but we have to be ready. We have to be prepared.” – Doc Rivers