The Ben Simmons drama in Philadelphia seems to be far from over, with the team fining the player again for missing games. However, even without the point guard in the lineup the 76ers have been flying high, winning six consecutive games.
Saturday’s win over the Chicago Bulls may have been the most impressive of them all though, with several key players missing in action. The aforementioned Simmons continues to sit out for personal reasons, while the 76ers were also missing Danny Green, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and Isaiah Joe against Chicago. It didn’t matter much though, with Joel Embiid scoring 30 points and picking up 15 rebounds in a brilliant individual performance.
“The chemistry that we have is very different from previous years,” Embiid said following the victory, via NBA.com. “Everybody feels like they have something to prove.”
Fans would certainly agree with Embiid as the team has yet to prove they can get the job done when it really matters in the playoffs. Despite finishing atop the Eastern Conference last season, the 76ers were eliminated in the second round by the Atlanta Hawks. Embiid looks desperate to get past the second round for the first time of his career.
Saturday night’s win was an important one for a team looking to send a message to the rest of the league that with or without Simmons, they are still one of the best in the entire NBA.
It’s not analytical right now. We just did it,” said head coach Doc Rivers to members of the media on Saturday evening, via NBA.com. “The ball kept going to the right players in the last 2 ½ minutes.”
The victory was not only the 76ers’ sixth in a row, it is also the 1000th in Rivers’ 23-year career as a head coach. He is just the 10th coach in league history to reach the milestone, after spending time at Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers prior to his arrival in Philadelphia.
“They set me up pretty well,” said Rivers of the ice bucket shower he received after the game from Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. “It was cold. I wish it was beer instead.”
The 76ers’ win streak began back on October 24th with a 115-103 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Since then, they have demonstrated just how good they can be with wins over the likes of the Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazers. They have shown they can get it done in multiple ways, including from the three-point line like they did on Saturday night against the Bulls.
“If you really break it down, the last two times we’ve played them, I think they’ve made twice as many 3s as we’ve made,” Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said following his team’s loss, via NBA.com.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the 76ers though as they are scheduled to take on the New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks on back-to-back nights as they look to extend their win streak even further.