The Philadelphia 76ers are still in the honeymoon phase with recently acquired superstar James Harden. The team is off to a great start with him in the lineup after winning their first two games by an average of 23.5 points.
The Sixers have been on fire offensively with Harden averaging a whopping 129 points in the first two games. The team has also been equally impressive on the defensive end, holding opponents to 105.5 points per game.
While it’s still early the reactions across the NBA have shown that people are clearly impressed with the new look Sixers. With people being impressed by the team early on, the expectations for this Sixers team are starting to touch the sky.
Living Up to the Legends
The Sixers haven’t won an NBA championship since 1983 when they were led by the likes of Julius Erving, Moses Malone, and Maurice Cheeks. That team is considered one of the best teams in NBA history.
In a new article from Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Billy Cunningham the head coach of that ’83 Sixers team discussed what he’s seen from the current team so far.
“Right now, everything is beautiful. It’s rosy,” Cunningham said. “They’ve won two games. Everybody is, ‘See, that’s why we did it.’ Well, we don’t know anything yet. You’ll find out when they get to the conference finals and how they respond.”
Cunningham also discussed his own experience in pairing superstars together. Referencing when the Sixers traded for Malone to pair him with Erving.
“I never thought it was going to be as easy as it was,” Cunningham said. “I really didn’t. But it was like they’d been playing together for years. We were a team that was lacking a real presence in the middle physically, and that’s what Moses brought us. It wasn’t anything I did. They complemented each other beautifully. They got along great personally. It was just the respect that they had for each other.”
To close the article Sielski says this current Sixers team has a model to look up to.
That’s the mark that Embiid and Harden have to meet. The Sixers have played beautiful offensive basketball since Harden arrived, and maybe Rivers’ experience handling superstars in Boston and Los Angeles makes him the perfect coach to meld Embiid and Harden into a single-minded machine. Maybe. Two games. He’ll be lucky if it turns out to be as easy as it has been so far. He’ll be lucky if he turns out to live the life that Billy Cunningham does now and did then.
In ’83 the Sixers steamrolled the competition winning 65 games during the regular season. Prior to the postseason, Malone made the legendary prediction of “Fo’, fo’, fo’,” predicting the number of games it would take the Sixers to win each series.
While Malone’s prediction didn’t come 100 percent true, he was darn close. The Sixers swept the Knicks in the conference semifinals, beat the Bucks in five games in the conference finals, and swept the Lakers in the NBA Finals.
This Sixers Team
The NBA has obviously changed a lot since the Sixers won the ’83 NBA Championship. Harden and Embiid are also different players than Malone and Erving.
With that said the merging of two superstars can always be challenging. So far the Sixers have been impressive, but the schedule hasn’t been tough yet.
We’ll find out a lot about this Sixers team over the next ten days. After they play the Knicks on Wednesday, the Sixers will play the Cavaliers, Hear, Bulls and Nets.
That stretch will be an interesting test and could present the Sixers with their first obstacles. It’ll be interesting to see how this team handles their issues when the honeymoon phase ends.