After a few disappointing games, the Sixers rebounded against a bad Charlotte team, which catapulted them to a victory over the Miami Heat. This game had huge playoff implications, with the Heat now at the 8 seed – one game behind the Sixers.

Maxey’s Big Games

After a sad performance against the Knicks, Maxey came back strong with 30 points in each of the last 3 games, with the previous night’s game against the Heat as his best. He tallied 10 assists to give him a double-double while approaching a triple-double with 8 rebounds. Maxey continues to grow and succeed while Embiid isn’t playing.

Against the Bucks on Thursday, when the rest of the team failed to compete, Maxey kept the Sixers within reach up until the final minutes of the game. Nobody would have thought the Sixers could contend with the Bucks without Embiid, but Maxey is becoming such a special player that he could possibly take the leap to superstar status within the next few years.

After the Bucks, other Sixers players stepped up and brought energy to the Sixers so Maxey’s efforts would not be in vain.

How can the Sixers win?

Defense.

The Sixers can’t replace 35 ppg with Embiid missing time, so they can only win if they keep the other team from scoring a lot. This team is not built to win shootouts without their best player, scoring approximately 13 points less per game without their big man.

When holding their opponent to less than 100 points, the Sixers are undefeated this season. Players like Oubre, Batum, Lowry, Bamba, and Reed won’t light up the scoreboard much, but they have the tools to play some stifling defense.

Batum’s Impact

Nico Batum never has a flashy stat line, but when watching him, you can’t help but notice his impact on the team. He’s never flustered and doesn’t make stupid plays. He knows where to be and how to deliver the ball cleanly to open teammates. He’s also long, which helps him disrupt the opposing offense even if he’s not getting a steal or block.

Just yesterday, against the Heat, Batum had a great block in the final minutes of the first half, which led to a long outlet pass for Kyle Lowry and 1. This gave the Sixers some good momentum going into the half.

He only finished with 2 points, but his veteran impact is extremely invaluable to this young squad.

Looking Forward

The main goal is to stay out of the play-in tournament. Without Embiid, this team is obviously not playoff-caliber, but they need to remain competitive to make sure they don’t have extra games before the real playoffs begin, and they will give themselves an easier matchup against the Cavs or the Knicks.

The rest of the schedule is not the easiest, with only five of the remaining 14 games at home. Their strength of schedule is right in the middle of the pack, but they always struggle on long road trips, especially on the west coast.

Hopefully, Embiid can return soon and get in shape before the playoffs start. If he plays, there is still hope to do some damage and become the first 5, 7, or 8 seed to win the finals.

 


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