The Philadelphia 76ers have gotten off to a good start during the NBA Playoffs. The Sixers are out to a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round series with the Toronto Raptors and will try to close it out on Monday night when they return home to Philadelphia.
While the Sixers are off to a good start, it hasn’t been all good news for the team. Superstar Joel Embiid is playing with a torn ligament in his thumb that will require surgery after the playoffs.
Embiid has still played well through the first four games averaging 26.0 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. However, as the postseason wears on and the competition gets tougher it might be harder for Embiid to maintain that production.
Holding Them Back
With Embiid playing with an injury it will important for other Sixers to step up and help carry the load. So far this postseason Tyrese Maxey, James Harden, and Tobias Harris have all answered the call to step up.
With that said the Sixers have still had some areas of concern this postseason. In a new article from Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report, he names the one player holding each playoff team back. According to Swartz the Sixers actually have two players holding them back in Matisse Thybulle and Danny Green.
Thybulle has held the Sixers back with his lack of availability. His decision to not be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 has left him ineligible for games in Toronto, where the 76ers went just 1-1 overall.
Green has been fully available, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. A career 38.3 percent three-point shooter in 157 total playoff games, Green is just 8-of-28 (28.6 percent) to begin 2022.
The 34-year-old doesn’t need to be a big-time scorer or elite wing defender any more, but hitting open threes is a minimum requirement for Green, something he’s yet to do up to this point.
Swartz is right on both accounts here. The fortunate thing for the Sixers is that neither of these issues has really hurt them so far. If the Sixers finish off the Raptors then Thybulle will be fully available for the rest of the playoffs.
While Green has struggled with his three-point shooting so far it’s possible he’ll turn it around. He shot 38.0% during the regular season and 37.8% during last year’s playoffs.
While the Sixers still have to finish off the Raptors in the first round, it’s only natural to look at the possible matchups that could be coming next. It’s likely that the Sixers will face the Miami Heat in the second round as they’ve built a 3-1 lead over the Atlanta Hawks.
The Sixers split their four meetings with the Heat this season going 2-2. If they can bounce the top-seeded Heat it looks like they’d face the Bucks or Celtics in the Eastern Conference Championship.
Philly was 1-2 against the defending champion Bucks this season, with the three games decided by an average of 4.66 points per game. The Sixers were also 2-2 against the Celtics this season.
Regardless of how things shake out, the Sixers are going to have a tough road to the NBA Finals. They’ll need everyone to step up if a run like that is going to happen.