The 76ers began the week at 32-18, went 2-1 this week, and improved to 34-19. Let’s run through some quick hits:
Big Win Against Golden State:
The 76ers arguably won their biggest game of the season last week against the Golden State Warriors in Oracle Arena. The Philadelphia win was spearheaded by Ben Simmons, who was announced as an NBA All-Star for the first time, prior to the game.
Simmons filled the stat sheet, recording 26 points on 10-13 shooting, eight rebounds, six assists, three steals, and a key block late in the game.
“I thought Ben had, in my eyes, his best NBA game.” -Brett Brown following the game.
Simmons brought the heat on both ends, forcing Steph Curry and Kevin Durant to shoot a combined 3-9 from the floor, while Simmons was in coverage.
The first ever Australian NBA All-Star, had success offensively against the Warriors best defenders. Simmons shot 5-6 on Draymond Green, 2-3 on Kevin Durant, and 2-3 on Andre Iguodala.
It was a great team win for Philadelphia, with Embiid capping off his historic month of January, with 25 points and 20 rebounds.
Embiid finished January, averaging 29 points and 13 rebounds, the first 76er to average such numbers in a month, since Charles Barkley in April of 1988.
Landry Shamet got in on the fun as well, further proving that he was the steal of this year’s draft.
The rook Landry Shamet going hard on both ends! pic.twitter.com/QS5kqY99j0
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) February 1, 2019
It was Philadelphia’s most convincing showing against a top-tier team this season, and their defense of Golden State’s historically potent attack was nearly perfect.
The NBA Trade Deadline is Next Week, What to expect?
The NBA trade deadline is already providing some drama, with the New York Knicks shipping Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks.
This trade is a reminder that the NBA’s power structure can change in an instant. After all, it is getting close to that time of year, when LeBron James makes massive changes to his team’s roster.
What should the 76ers do? Do they have the assets to get another core piece?
With Markelle Fultz and Zhaire Smith’s health up in the air, it is going to be tough to move either of them.
Not to mention, it is too early to assess either player’s value in the NBA. I think the 76ers stay quiet before the deadline and look to add players during the buyout period that follows.
Many believe that the 76ers are a least a few bench pieces away from making it past the second round of the postseason this year. If that is the case, they would have to get busy, fast.
Philadelphia currently sits at fourth in the Eastern Conference, trailing the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and Milwaukee Bucks respectively.
The 76ers need bench pieces, particularly scoring depth, and defense at the wing. Last year, Philly added Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova, and it made a huge difference.
As the roster stands now, it will be tough to get past the second round of the postseason. Will the 76ers be able to add enough talent to push them past either Toronto or Boston?
A Look Ahead:
The 76ers, who just returned from a three-game west coast trip, will host three nationally televised games next week. Here is the slate of games:
Tuesday, February 5: vs Toronto Raptors (TNT)
Friday, February 8: vs Denver Nuggets (ESPN)
Sunday, February 10: vs Los Angeles Lakers (ABC)
The 76ers were defeated by the Nuggets on January 26, when they last met. Philadelphia, however, was missing both Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler, and their absence was noticeable.
This week’s contest should look much different with Butler and Embiid in the lineup. Denver, who spent the early part of the season atop the Western Conference standings, has slipped one game behind the Golden State Warriors.
Philadelphia handled a depleted Lakers roster last week, missing LeBron James, Lonzo Ball, and Kyle Kuzma.
With James returning from a groin injury that he suffered on Christmas Day, this contest will be much different with the King on the floor. Kuzma is also expected to be ready, but Ball will not be in action, who is ailing from a Grade 3 ankle sprain.
Game of the week: vs Toronto Raptors (Feb. 5):
This will be the fourth and final meeting with Toronto this year, in the regular season. In the first two contests, the Raptors easily beat the 76ers.
Philadelphia would get their revenge in the third contest, but the Raptors were without Kawhi Leonard.
Struggling against the Raptors is nothing new for the 76ers, who are 4-21 against the Raptors in their last 25 meetings, dating back to January 2013.
With Ben Simmons coming off a hot performance against the defending champs, I will be watching to see if he can follow that performance with another solid showing against an Eastern Conference rival. Simmons has struggled greatly against Toronto this season, and Leonard will be all over Simmons in this one.
The 76ers want any chance to win this game, it will have to be on the backs of their two young stars, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
I am expecting a playoff atmosphere in South Philly on Tuesday night. You can watch the game at 8 pm EST, on TNT, February 5.
For all things 76ers, make sure to keep up with Basketball Society on social media. Talk to me personally on Twitter @PhillySportsMax, and I will see y’all next week.