Around these parts, back-to-back victories are worthy of a celebration.
Go all the way back to March 2015 to find two straight 76ers wins.
How about four wins in a row at home? That’s where the Sixers are following a 101-94 victory over the Miami Heat.
The Sixers are 4-10 and have eons to go, but small glimpses of positivity are starting to appear. Joel Embiid continues to state his early case for Rookie of the Year after registering 22 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots in slightly more than 23 minutes. Jerryd Bayless made his debut and was rusty with four points and five assists. Just having Bayless in uniform is a huge step forward.
Jahlil Okafor was very effective with 15 points.
Ben Simmons and Nerlens Noel look to be on the way back at some point in the near future.
For the last three-plus seasons, the Sixers had numerous close games fall apart down the stretch. They’re learning how to close out these types of games and the wins will certainly help their confidence.
“I’ve always felt that if we could buy time, and you’ve heard me use those words ad nauseum, we started out with incredibly poor luck,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “You take a hit with your starting point guard. You take a hit with the top overall pick in the draft. You take a hit with your two five men with relation to restrictions. Then with Nerlens. We’ve gotten punched all over the place. We felt that pain in the early start of the year and it’s still there in the early days. But I do see daylight. I do feel like when we start to get our guys healthier, we start to get into a rhythm. … I’m seeing fight and resilience in the group.”
The young kids are growing up. It’ll be a long-term commitment, but results are slowly starting to show. As the injured players continue to heal, Brown will have a nice problem of trying to figure out rotations and minutes. It sure beats the alternative.
“There’s no veterans in my eyes in that group,” Brown said. “There’s nobody like a five-time All-Star or been a starter for six years and you just can’t believe he’s not starting. They’re all just young. They’re all trying to carve out their own place on the team. … It’ll figure itself out. When I paint it like it’s going to be natural and obvious, but in my heart of hearts, I know it isn’t. It’s going to be a tremendous challenge where the responsibility rests with me. I don’t take that responsibility lightly.”
Embiid is the anchor to this whole plan. Once again, the big man dominated down the stretch.
For a kid who barely has any experience, it’s an amazing sight as the Sixers keep pulling out wins.
“We’re just moving the ball and especially for me, I’m not forcing it anymore,” Embiid said. “I’m just getting my shots in the flow of the offense. My turnovers are going down. It’s about moving the ball. That’s what we talked about since training camp.”
The Sixers didn’t notch their fourth win last season until Jan. 4. Think about that for a second.
“I feel we’re moving in the right direction,” Brown said. “I’m proud of certainly their effort and ability to execute better and better as time goes on.”