Without Joel Embiid the Sixers were able to overcome a 19-point deficit to defeat a talented Clippers team last night. In the last 21:40 to play, the Sixers outscored the Clippers 62-32 to ensure the team’s 121-110 victory and their ninth win in the last 10 games.
The Clippers were missing their best player, Chris Paul, due to an injury as well. Despite Paul sitting, the Sixers were able to show the talent-flooded Clippers with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan that “The Process” is for real.
Is this a fluke? How could the Sixers’ Embiidless line up even compete with a NBA Finals contending team in the Clippers? The answer is their gritty hustle and the newly found energy surrounding the team that comes from flashes of future greatness.
With future stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons sitting out, the Sixers’ lineup did not have much skill, but they made up for it in hustle. They showed that if they put everything they have on the court, the possibilities for this team are endless.
Austin Rivers of the Clippers shared his thoughts on the Sixers after the loss, “They kept fighting, kept doing what they are supposed to do. Everybody knows that’s they M.O., man. They don’t have the talent that we have. They don’t have the talent that we have. They don’t have the talent that other teams have. So they bank everything on playing hard. They outwork teams. That’s what they do.” Rivers noticed a special fire in this young team that kept them fighting.
The heart and toughness this team shows on the floor has put them through this January surge. They are now ranked in the top ten in the NBA for defensive efficiency and are among the hottest teams in the NBA. This is a result of the hard-hitting big men under the rim and the hustle plays from the rest of the team. With Noel and Holmes protecting the pain, while scoring a combined 37 points, and the backcourt players giving their all to stop the opponent, the Sixers were able to apply aggressive, defensive pressure to the Clippers resulting in a win.
The reason this type of old school, rugged defense is working because it’s rare in the NBA. Most teams have players on large contracts with a ton of NBA experience, which tends to correlate with a lax style of play with the intention of being healthy and energized for a playoff run.
What makes the Sixers a special kind of team this year is their youth. Of the 15 players on their roster, 10 of them are under 25-years-old. Most of these players have not had the opportunity to sign big contracts or have experienced the taste of winning. Thus, the lack of experience on the Sixers roster has formed a college style culture around the team that leads them to play their hearts out on a group level rather than an individual level like the NBA.
This scrappy, tough, underdog style of play is representative of the City of Philadelphia. The fans and the team feed off each other’s energy and are creating something special for Philadelphia Sports. With the combination of the All-Star ability of Embiid, the imminent return of Ben Simmons, the hustle culture in the organization and the passion Philly fans have for this team, there are no holds barred on the future success of the Sixers.
This is “The Process”. Who’s next?