Maybe they DON’T hate the process.
The Philadelphia 76ers have jumped to the top spot in this week’s NBA.com’s Power Rankings. The Sixers were ranked third last week, behind the second-place Denver Nuggets and first-place Boston Celtics.
The top nod comes as the Sixers are on a seven-game win streak, including dispatching Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets as well as the Eastern Conference rival Brooklyn Nets last week. The Sixers have won 20 of their last 24 games and currently sit within a game in the loss column behind the first-in-the-East Celtics.
The rankings touched on the Sixers’ defense-optional victories as of late, but contends that the fact that Philadelphia keeps winning anyway is a positive showing of their offensive efficiency, especially in the case of Joel Embiid.
To win three games while allowing your opponents to score that efficiently (Brooklyn’s effective field goal percentage of 73.7% on Wednesday was the highest in NBA history for a losing team), you have to be pretty darn efficient yourself. The Sixers scored more than 130 points per 100 possessions in each of the three games, having done so just three times through their first 45. Joel Embiid didn’t play in the Sacramento win and was just 6-for-18 from the field against the Nets, but the real showcase was Saturday afternoon, and he came through with the signature performance of his season: 47 points (including a personal, 7-0, fourth-quarter run to give the Sixers the lead for good) against Jokic and the Nuggets. It’s been noted in this space that Embiid has been shooting more in the paint this season, but four of his five fourth-quarter buckets came from outside the paint, where he was 7-for-13. He’s one of five Sixers who’ve shot 40% or better on more than 25 3-point attempts over the seven-game winning streak.
The 32-16 Sixers currently have an offensive rating of 115.7 and a defensive rating of 111.6.
This week, the Sixers look to continue their victory streak with two home games against the Orlando Magic before hitting the road to take on the San Antonio Spurs and the New York Knicks.