Maybe I’m just drunk on this past weekend of Philadelphia sports, but on the eve of a new Sixers season — one coming, impossibly, after an offseason of absolutely no South Philly scandals or controversies in an NBA summer riddled with them — I’m feeling even more optimistic than usual.
Yes, the Phillies are heading into an improbable NLCS appearance (the first pitch of Game 1 is set to be thrown a mere half hour after Sixers-Celtics tips off on Tuesday night). And this Phillies team just has that indescribable, intangible, ephemeral, something. They haven’t been the more talented team in either of their matchups so far and yet, as a fan when watching the games, I’ve felt remarkably sanguine that they would come out on top in both series.
And the Birds are 6-0, beating the Cowboys on Sunday night as they head into their bye week. They seem to be a stunningly well-rounded football team, soundly-coached, they all seem to love playing together, and the team ought to be at full health by the time they need to play again in two weeks. The path to the one seed in the NFC is right there in front of them.
So maybe it’s that — the vibes in the city from a sports perspective are bubbling over.
But maybe, just maybe, things with the Sixers — our Sixers, our lose-in-the-second-round, fall-on-their-face, Doc-Rivers-is-still-the-coach Sixers — are going to work out. It could happen, right? This year.
Maybe Joel Embiid is about to put it all together. Maybe he’ll play 65+ games and stay fully healthy throughout the postseason, win the regular season and Finals MVP as we start building the statue outside The Farg.
Maybe James Harden will regain enough of his first step to score as a second option efficiently enough to be relied-upon throughout the year, and then when it matters most, the Sixers’ improved depth will support him to such an extent that he will be able to once and for all slay his postseason demons.
Maybe Tyrese Maxey will continue to get better.
Tyrese Maxey will continue to get better.
Maybe P.J. Tucker will be load managed and stay fresh and at the peak of his powers come playoff time, so that he’s ready to mark opposing lead scorers on a nightly basis.
Maybe De’Anthony Melton, Danuel House, Georges Niang, Montrezl Harrell. and Paul Reed all have career years off the bench.
Maybe I’m amazed at the way you love me all the time.
Sorry, I got carried away with the maybes. Back to the Sixers.
Maybe all of these scenarios coming together in one season (in Philadelphia) seems especially implausible. That’s fair. So let’s split the difference a bit.
Maybe Harden is fairly close to what he was last year (a great passer but a compromised scorer with limited bust), BUT consistent health from Embiid and another leap from Maxey is more than enough to make up for the beard’s deficiencies.
Maybe spells of streakiness befall the Sixers’ role players from beyond, thus making them harder to rely on than previously outlined BUT uncharacteristically accurate and aggressive years from players like Tobias Harris and Embiid from three keeps the team’s three-point numbers above water in those cases. Hell, maybe Furkan Korkmaz or (gulp) Matisse Thybulle comes out of the woodwork if a rash of injury or ineffectiveness breaks out along the Sixers’ bench.
Maybe the team’s sheer will, talent and togetherness will be enough to overcome Doc Rivers’ overall stodginess at the helm.
Maybe this Sixers team is talented and deep enough from top to bottom to simply not need all of these maybes to turn into definitelys, (Definitely, Maybe is on Prime Video, btw) in order for us to have a party on Broad Street. Maybe they just need enough of the big ones to work out.
And maybe this is the year they do.
There’s something in the air in Philadelphia.
This could be our year.