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SB Nation Reacts: Sixers fans’ confidence holds steady as playoffs near

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NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NBA. Each week, we send out questions to the most plugged in Philadelphia 76ers fans, and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts.

According to the most recent SB Nation Reacts survey a full 100 percent of 76ers fans are confident the team is headed in the right direction. That number has held steady for most of the season. This should not come as much of a surprise, considering the Sixers have been the Eastern Conference’s top team for a large portion of the season.

The numbers back up the fan sentiment. The Sixers have the 2nd best defensive rating in the NBA and they rank 13th in offensive rating, per NBA Stats. While fans would like to see that offensive rating a bit higher, its worth noting that the Sixers have reached these ranks despite Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons missing a combined 31 games. Of course, every team deals with injuries and missed time. But Embiid and Simmons are focal points of the Sixers’ offense, and their absence weighs on the rating. Rest assured, Sixers fans have every reason to feel optimistic about the Sixers as they hand in one of the franchise’s best regular season performances in recent history.

And they are doing it in a season that isn’t exactly normal. The Sixers, like every other team in the league, is working through a non-stop schedule to end the season. With the end of the regular season scheduled to come May 16, the NBA is forcing teams to finish their schedule.

However, more than two-thirds of fans around the NBA think the league condensed the schedule too much.

(Based on my own personal experience, I agree with this sentiment. Here at Liberty Ballers, we certainly feel less time to draft up features, analysis, and longer from pieces. There’s a game just about every other day, so content is dominated by game coverage. You get one day between games to write something up before the data changes. Here’s to hoping 2021-22 brings a slower paced schedule.)

One major reason it’s believed the league was so adamant on finishing this early is because of the expected 2021 Olympics this summer. However, only 44 percent of fans believe that’s a worthy reason for playing games at this pace.

While the schedule is difficult for everyone, some teams are having more success than others. That’s in large part due to the success of star players around the league. This year’s MVP race has seen a changing group of players from start to finish.

As the season nears its end, though, one player has emerged as the front runner for the award. 61 percent of fans nationally think Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokić is the league’s MVP. Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul was the next closest with 17 percent. Joel Embiid earned eight percent.

It’s nice to see Joel getting some national love here, as he absolutely deserves to be in the conversation. Had he been able to play more games, me thinks he’s getting a much more significant percentage of the vote. Regardless of who actually gets the award, it’s an exciting experience for fans to be able to witness the greatness of an MVP caliber player. Joel Embiid is a treasure.

Now, while Jokić appears to be the clear MVP, that doesn’t mean he’s considered the best player in the game right now. That title, according to fans, still goes to Lakers superstar LeBron James. Again, Joel received some love in this poll, as five percent of NBA fans voted for Embiid.

Paul’s re-emergence with the Suns has been a game-changer. The point guard was picked as the player who has made the biggest difference on their new team, far surpassing Brooklyn’s James Harden. (Of course, Harden has played only 34 games for Brooklyn.) In my opinion, Jrue Holiday should have more of the vote than Harden.

To vote in the Reacts surveys and have your voice heard each week, sign up here.