All we usually hear about is the Big 3 in Brooklyn of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. But what about the one in Philly? The Sixers have a brilliant trio of their own in MVP candidate Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris. While they may not be the Nets, the development these three have shown this season goes to show why the Sixers were the No. 1 seed in the East.
You’ve already seen a glimpse of what they’re capable of in this Wizards series. While the Bucks and Nets are mainly talked about as the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference in the 2021 NBA playoffs, the Sixers should be right in that conversation. This team is no joke.
Doc Rivers said it best on Friday. The development he’s seen in Embiid, Simmons, and Harris this season makes them a scary team to face thanks to their ability to hurt you from all over the floor.
“They have grown and that’s key for us,” said the Sixers coach. “I think, through the year, you just see so many different coverages on how they’re going to defend Ben. Every night, they’re going to defend Ben in a different way.”
What’re they gonna do with Joel?” Rivers continued. “They’re gonna front, they’re gonna trap, they’re gonna do the walkovers, are they going to trap Tobias? Are they going to not switch with him on pick-and-rolls? I think through the year the guys are reading that. They’re seeing it. They know it early and they’re starting to take advantage of the coverages. When they can do that without coaching, you know your team has made a big step.”
While Embiid is a formidable big who can score at will, Simmons is often criticized for his inability to get buckets. But, his value to the Sixers goes so much further than that. Game 1 was the perfect example. He had just six points, but the guard had 15 rebounds and 15 assists. You really can’t make replace this type of production. Simmons is making an impact inside while serving as the Sixers’ best playmaker. He then responded with a 22-point performance in Game 2 to silence the critics.
Then, you have Harris, who has taken massive strides in his game. 37 points in the series opener were tremendous, but his offensive brilliance has been a common occurrence. He averaged 19.5 points and 6.8 rebounds this season while shooting an impressive 40% from downtown and a career-best 51% from the field.
Sure, the Sixers had this Big 3 last season. But, the shooters they’ve added around them have also made a huge difference. Danny Green and Seth Curry are wet from long range, giving this team the full package. They have interior scoring, playmaking, outside shooting, and size on the glass, which is a matchup nightmare for any opponent. But defense wins championships, right?
Well, the Sixers have that too. Simmons is arguably one of the best defenders in the league and about the only player who can literally guard every single position on the court thanks to his unique combination of size, athleticism, and strength.
While Embiid and Simmons have been around for several years now and have failed to lead the Sixers to the promised land, Harris could very well be one of the biggest differences this time around. That third star has been non-existent in Philly, but Harris is proving to be exactly what they needed. He rounds out their offense with versatility.
The Sixers were the top seed in the East for a reason. Sure, the Nets didn’t have their Big 3 together for a lot of the season. But, they need to watch out because Philadelphia is hungry, well-rounded offensively, and they have a much better defense.
Don’t sleep on the Sixers in this postseason. A trip to the NBA Finals should not be counted out.