There are two types of lovable teams in the NBA: one that possesses that true championship aspirations and one that has a The Little Engine That Could energy with role players and youngsters grinding it out.
The Sixers are simultaneously both of those teams right now.
Coming off a season in which they had the top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Sixers are 8-4. They have the best big man on the planet in Joel Embiid. Every night that Embiid is on the court in the postseason, they have a puncher’s chance of winning because they could have the premier player in any given game.
They also have a massively improved bench and are fighting tough despite rolling out Process-ass starting lineups this week. The Sixers started Tyrese Maxey, Shake Milton, Furkan Korkmaz, Paul Reed and Andre Drummond against the Bucks. Charles Bassey got some run! Despite this, they had the defending champions on the ropes and almost stole an improbable home win. There are no medals for valor in professional sports, but I still give these unsung dudes credit for playing fearlessly in the face of an all-time great in Giannis Antetokounmpo. B-Ball Paul, who’s played just 271 minutes in his NBA career, was playing as well as one could against the reigning Finals MVP.
I know there’s a segment of the Sixers fan base, not that I agree, who miss the freewheeling days of a team with low expectations. It’s title or bust for me, so I want a damn parade more than anything in this life. This is a best of both worlds situation right now though! As Bruce Banner would say, “I see this as an absolute win!”
I went to the game against Milwaukee. It wasn’t some total playoff atmosphere with a packed, rowdy crowd, but watching Maxey making a leap from rotation player to budding star right in front of my eyes as he took control of that arena felt like nirvana. Seeing Andre Drummond crash the boards with the force of a bygone era oozed an old-school level of grit that was infectious. Georges Niang continues to have the shooting stroke of Larry Bird himself, turning into an elite bench player who’s destined to have an iconic playoff moment in Sixers red, white and blue.
Tickets are cheap as hell right now. I was in a top level corner with a great view of all the action last night for $17. I grabbed tickets for tomorrow night’s matchup against Toronto a couple weeks back for $20 a pop. Go down to South Philly and catch a game. I’m eating this up. This is what fans dream about when stuck in the molasses of mediocrity for a decade. The Sixers’ vibes are off the charts and I can’t get enough of this team.