The Philadelphia 76ers have been one of the best teams in the NBA this season. Clearly Doc Rivers brought a much-needed breath of fresh air and the team, after some ups and downs under Brett Brown’s tutelage, is finally living up to its potential.
Most of the credit goes – obviously – to their star duo, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, two of the leading contenders for MVP and Defensive Player of the Year; respectively.
That’s why it was such a blow for them to learn that Embiid will be sidelined for a few weeks after suffering a knee injury, meaning Simmons will be asked to lead the team without their top scorer:
“I just have to keep the same mentality that I had in the first part of the season. Of course everyone was devastated when I saw it, but we were lucky that it wasn’t anything crazier than it is. We’re blessed in that sense, but for us now we have to go ahead and win these games no matter who’s out there. This is an opportunity for someone to step up and make a difference,” said Simmons, as quoted by USA Today.
The former top pick added that this time without Embiid, the team will need to persevere with a “next man up” mentality if they want to take first place in the Eastern Conference, no matter how tough it may be:
“We have to do it,” Simmons said. “This is a situation that I think everyone realizes is what it is. So everyone has to stand up and do their part, knowing we’re fighting for a championship. This isn’t a team just trying to make the playoffs. We want to hold the first seed and win a championship, so we know that will take time. We have all the parts; everyone just needs to stay locked up.
The Sixers have a strong core and a big shot to end their losing streak and make it back to the NBA Finals. Hopefully Embiid will return sooner rather than later and be completely healthy for the playoffs.