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Sixers Stock Watch: Embiid’s disappearance, Beard’s Achilles heel, murderer’s row slate, & MVP race

Just when things were looking up.... an all too familiar fear creeps in.

Chicago Bulls v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

We were riding an all-time high. The best team Joel Embiid has ever had around him the best the Yaoundé native has ever looked personally, a surging Sixers unit was putting real pressure on the Boston Celtics for that two seed. All they had to do was beat the 33-37 Chicago Bulls in a home-and-home, and stay healthy.

But alas.... an all too familiar state of injury concern now overtakes us.

Let’s take stock.


Toronto Raptors v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

The Sixers are three games back for the Eastern Conference’s top seed trailing the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Sixers are just a half game behind the Boston Celtics for the second seed. That was the one that was starting to look really obtainable a few days ago. The Sixers have won nine of their last 10 games, and the Celtics were just 5-5 over their last 10. But then the Chicago OT loss and the injury updates hit us like a ton of Matisse Thybulle bricks.

A look at the full playoff and play-in picture in the East, per

A look at the league wide standings, top 20, Philadelphia holds a half game lead over the Denver Nuggets. That’s potentially significant for both a hotly contested MVP race, and low-key vital, home court advantage for a potential Finals matchup:

The Sixers’ best claim, as you’ve likely heard, is the NBA’s best overall record since Dec. 5, the date James Harden returned from the right foot strain that cost him 14 games starting in November.

The top teams since that key date, per

If the playoffs were to start tomorrow, the Sixers would host the Brooklyn Nets. That’s the good news, as the Miami Heat or New York Knicks might be a scarier opponent.

The Nets aren’t total pushovers, but they’d be a better first-round opponent, in my opinion, than some alternatives.

Injury picture

Philadelphia 76ers v Milwaukee Bucks

Gina Mizell of provided the full update, and we analyzed that here. Both players are questionable for Golden State.

Embiid missed the second half of the last game, leaving us all wondering where he was for most of the third period.

On Thursday, Kyle Neubeck of The PhillyVoice speculated about how pending “scans” of Embiid’s calf might determine how much leverage the big fella has with team medical staff in determining which games he’ll play in, and which games he may get a load management night off.

Neubeck reminds us Joel has a lot of say, although at times, the team has come down with decisions he has not agreed with.

And Harden is dealing with a sore Achilles. So yeah, that’s where it’s at. That’s the biggest thing to keep an eye on, the health of the team’s stars.

If those two are right, their pick-and-roll is absolutely unstoppable.

By the Numbers

Still, absolutely loves the Sixers chances to win the title. I’m not sure if their Artificial Intelligence has kept up on the latest injury news, but #Heretheycome:

Nate Silver’s site projects Philly to finish with a three seed behind Boston, yet prefers the 76ers’ title odds to the reigning Eastern Conference champs. Joel did abuse Al Horford last time they played.

The Sixers have the third-best offensive rating overall, dropping 117.1 points per 100.

They have the fifth-best defensive rating:

This is truly the statistical profile of a championship caliber team people! Let’s enjoy that.

Playing defense as well as they have with this personnel is impressive, and a testament to Joel Embiid, P.J Tucker, De’Anthony Melton, I guess Doc Rivers, defensive Czar Dan Burke and others.

As you know, reveals the Sixers have the hardest schedule remaining. Super barf:

You can talk about schedule generated randomness, or the luck of the draw all you want. You can talk about learning, and being tested, and... nah, dude, it’s a major, major disadvantage to have to finish an NBA season the way this team has to finish.

If they had a slate of bottom-five, likely tanking teams, ahead of them like the Cavaliers do, they could both rest Joel and James and still stack victories. Instead, they’ll have to strategize and Oregon Trail this thing, taking some inevitable lumps as they ford treacherous rivers across lethal terrain.

Power Rankings

Detroit Pistons v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

A bit of a jinx here, no? The Sixers are the top-ranked team on’s power rank that came out on March 20.

The last time the Sixers made the first overall spot in the power rankings, following a huge win over the Nikola Jokic led Nuggets in late January, they’d go on to lose three of their next five, including blowing a pair of 20-point leads to Orlando and the Josh Hart-less Knicks, back in the days Doc was still foisting all-bench units anchored by Montrezl Harrell on us, and clearly hurting Maxey’s confidence and...sigh...

They’d already have the two seed locked up if they’d simply listened to fans on the all-bench and backup five crap from the jump back in October! Sorry, still not over it.

Now, after Doc finally cleaned up a lot of his ongoing and weird mistakes, the team makes a surge and earned the top power spot again, and boom. We get a pair of injuries to the two best players.

Most Sixers thing ever.


Milwaukee Bucks v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

According to DraftKings, the championship odds haven’t changed much in a week.

Here’s how they looked one week ago to the hour:

Philly was listed at +1100, behind the Nuggets, Suns, Celtics, and Bucks.

And here’s how it looks now, with Philly, now +1000, improving the most of everyone who saw change in the top five. But they still didn’t overtake anyone above them:

Vegas says Milwaukee and Phoenix are the two teams to beat in their respective conferences, and the most likely teams to meet in the NBA Finals in what would be a rematch of the 2021 Finals, plus one Kevin Durant. The odds of that happening should increase even more with the latest unfortunate knee sprain injury to L.A.’s Paul George, since the Clippers were a possible first-round opponent of the Suns, who may have to contend with Kawhi Leonard and co. while KD is still less than 100 percent.

MVP Race

2023 NBA All Star Game Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Per, Embiid is still the MVP favorite, now -150. That’s an implied 57 percent chance, adjusted for juice. Jokic is +230, and Giannis +270.

It’s better than a coin flip. From Embiid’s perspective, these odds are almost like he’s playing Texas Hold ‘Em and is all-in holding pocket rockets facing two live opponents each holding different suited connectors.

Joel’s lead is probably going to hold up (if healthy) based on these odds. But you’re going to have to breathe into a paper bag until you see the flop, turn, and river.

The discourse about how toxic the MVP race has become is now as toxic as the original toxic discourse. Some Russian doll of toxicity thing.

MVBiid. Just give the man his trophy already.

Buy, Sell, hold?

Philadelphia 76ers v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Holy Jiminy Cricket Batman. Here’s our upcoming slate, before we next take stock:

A roadie in Golden State where the Warriors have won 12 of their last 13 home games will be tough. We don’t even know if either Embiid or Harden will play. Then they have the second of a back-to-back in Phoenix. Ugh. That could easily be two losses, even if Joel and James play in both!

Maybe the way to go is rest them both for Golden State and see if they can go for the one in Phoenix?

Deandre Ayton and Kevin Durant are both out for the one in Phoenix. The desert match might be the one to really push for here. The Suns have lost five of six. That game seems more winnable than the one vs. the Dubs.

Then there’s an MVP showdown in Denver at altitude where the Nuggets will be favored and have far less pressure on them.

The Nuggets can of course, afford to lose one, possessing a large lead in the wimpy, wimpy West. Advantage Denver. That’s a three Yuengling ball-game minimum.

And then they’re back home vs. Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and the Dallas Mavericks, who last torched them for 82 combined points in a 133-1126 loss.

We have no choice but to sell a pile of our Sixers stock here, sadly.

We want a two seed, an Embiid MVP, and an Embiid NBA Finals MVP before the parade and ring ceremony. We don’t want to get banged up, watch Joker or Giannis win MVP, and get bounced in one of the first couple rounds. This week will give us plenty of clues as to our ultimate fate. No presh.

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