Ben Simmons

Sixers have more in common with 08-09 Magic than they think

Sixers have more in common with 08-09 Magic than they think


The 2008-09 Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic had a dominant big man, a 6-foot-10 forward who shared ball-handling duties and a three-point assassin acquired in free agency.

Sound familiar?

That year, JJ Redick was in his third season in Orlando with a front-row seat as the Magic shocked the NBA world by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

“In theory maybe, but our style of play is completely different from [that team],” Redick said. “Like them, we’re building toward winning a championship for sure. But not a ton of similarities in terms of style. 

“Joel (Embiid) is a gifted scorer in the post, Ben (Simmons) is just sort of a unicorn. There haven’t been many players like him … ever … but if you look at us and any team in the East over the next three, five years, Boston, whoever LeBron plays for, Toronto … we’re positioned well to make a run. 

The Sixers beat Orlando, 118-98, Thursday night (see observations).

Even with a 21-point halftime lead, the 76ers didn’t let up. They held the Magic to 4 out of 23 from the field and extended the lead to 30 points by the end of the third quarter.

“I think that our third period was the thing I was most impressed with,” Brett Brown said. “We were able to maintain a sense of urgency and treat it as an opportunity … I think that was a statement period for our team.”

The Sixers can now clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Timberwolves on Saturday and are just one game behind the Cavs for the No. 3 seed in the East — exactly where Orlando began its run in ‘09.

Why not?

That’s the question the Sixers should be asking themselves. They’ve gone 16-5 after starting the season 25-25, and with seven of their last 11 games coming against teams with losing records, the Sixers have a realistic shot at the No. 3 seed.

Embiid has revived the role of a dominant center, averaging 23.4 points and 11.1 rebounds. Simmons has nine triple-doubles, the second most in the history of rookie seasons. Redick is shooting 41 percent from long range and averaging 16.6 points per game.

“After we got the fourth position, we wanted to come out and let everybody know that we were going for the home court,” Embiid said. “After this game, I decided we have a new goal: I want 50 wins. If we can do that, that would be great. We will be pushing for that.”

Sure, the Sixers lost their first eight games to Toronto, Boston and Cleveland earlier this season. But wouldn’t you know it, they’ve beaten all three of them since then.

Maybe this team is a year or two away, but why not dream big this year?

Sixers clobber Magic to push win streak to 5

Sixers clobber Magic to push win streak to 5


ORLANDO, Fla. — Joel Embiid threw up a three in the waning seconds of the first half and didn’t even bother to see if the shot went in.

He took off fist-pumping his way down the court as the ball swished in, giving the 76ers their 70th point of the half. You can’t blame him because the game wasn’t worth watching anyway.

“I heard all my teammates and the whole bench went, ‘Watch out, watch out,’ and I was like, ‘F this, I am going to shoot this,’” Embiid said. “As soon as I shot it, I knew it was going in. I felt like Steph Curry.”

The Sixers led by nine after one quarter, 21 after two, 30 after three and essentially dribbled the clock out in the fourth to a 118-98 win over the Orlando Magic on Thursday.

The victory was the Sixers’ fifth in a row to move their record to 41-30 and guarantee their first season of at least .500 ball since 2010-11.

• Six different players scored in double figures led by Ersan Ilyasova’s 17. Ben Simmons barely missed out on another triple-double. He had six points (on just four shot attempts) to go along with 11 rebounds and 10 assists in only three quarters of action. Embiid added 17 points and nine rebounds in only 20 minutes.

• The Magic were led by Rodney Purvis’ 19 points off the bench.

• The Sixers are now only one game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

• When the 76ers showed up for breakfast Thursday morning in Orlando, there was a giant poster of the Eastern Conference standings on the wall.

Coach Brett Brown put it there and said his players knew its significance.

"We're aware of where we're at," Brown said. "We control our own destiny. We aren't reliant on other events. I see the goal of home court and winning in the playoffs a lot more clearly."

Brown said the goal is to keep the current run of five straight wins going through the remaining three weeks of the season.

"We don't intend on letting what we built so far go easily," Brown said. "We want to go into the playoffs in rhythm and trending in the form that can equate to trying to win in the playoffs."

• Brown was asked a simple question in pregame: “Are rookies coming in better prepared on defense?”

He gave a simple answer: “No.”

Brown then elaborated saying that with the arrival of sports science and analytics, NBA rookies are overwhelmed.

“So, you take a 19-year-old kid and throw him into a man’s world with the strength and analytics and scouting and preparation, and they are floored," Brown said. "It’s a different sport, the language, the rules, the duration of the game. It’s not the NCAA, and it’s not FIBA, so no — and like an adamant no.”

• The Sixers play seven of their final 11 games against teams with losing records, but next up is Minnesota (41-31) on Saturday. It will be the second leg of a back-to-back for the Timberwolves, who travel to New York to play the Knicks Friday.

Joel Embiid roasts Colin Cowherd for Sixers prediction

AP Images/USA Today Images

Joel Embiid roasts Colin Cowherd for Sixers prediction

Colin Cowherd was worried about Sixers fans blowing up his Twitter account.

Really, his chief concern should have been Joel Embiid.

"The minute that game's over," Cowherd said, "my Twitter account's going to literally be in flames."

Embiid, a social media virtuoso, made certain Cowherd's nightmare came true.

You see, the Sixers on Wednesday night won their 40th game of the season by blasting the 19-win Grizzlies, 119-105, at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations).

Prior to the season's start, Cowherd, a host of the FS1 show "The Herd," lambasted the thought of Brett Brown's team achieving such a feat.

So a little wager was made:

"You know what I don't like about this, I don't like a couple of pro athletes … suddenly ganging up on me," Cowherd said, joking around. "I'm not a big fan of this."

That's too bad.

Embiid and Simmons felt no sympathy after the victory.

COLIN COWARD.... Coach deserves a lot of credit #40wins #TheProcess

A post shared by Joel "The Process" Embiid (@joelembiid) on

Now, Philly just needs to get the guy his jersey.

Maybe Embiid can sign it for him: "Trust the Process."

Meanwhile, these guys have 40 wins ... and they're not done yet.