The Philadelphia 76ers were eliminated from the NBA playoffs this past week despite Joel Embiid’s herculean efforts to will his squad into the Eastern Conference Finals.
While James Harden objectively deserves a lot of the blame for the Sixers’ woes – he doesn’t deserve all of it.
The team’s roster, as presently constructed, has a very real weakness.
Embiid discussed it at length following Philly’s loss to the Miami Heat.
“I mean, we’ve had a few tough guys since I’ve been here. I can recall, whether it was Mike Scott, he didn’t play a lot of minutes, but when you have size and toughness, that goes a long way,” Embiid said.
“You look at someone like P.J. Tucker, great player, but it’s not about him knocking down shots. It’s about what he does. Whether it’s on the defensive or rebounding the ball.
“You look at defensively, he plays with so much energy, believes that you can get from point A to point B, and he believes that no one can beat him and he’s tough, like he’s just physical and he’s tough. And [the Heat] have a few of those guys, whether it’s Bam [Adebayo] and all those guys.”
It’s hard to argue that point. Interestingly enough, the Sixers had two guys sort of like that in Jimmy Butler and Al Horford. Again, not precisely apples to apples – but similar. But they let both guys go in part to appease Ben Simmons, who subsequently needed to be traded this past season.
It will be interesting to see where Philly goes from here. Clearly they have a lot of talent, but for whatever reason, they can’t quite make the leap to the next level.
Which isn’t uncommon.
— Game 7 (@game7__) May 14, 2022
Sometimes, like in the case of Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks last year, an eventual championship is inevitable. Other times, like with Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic, it isn’t.
Which camp will Embiid ultimately fall into when it’s all said and done?
Time will tell.