ABOVE PHOTO: Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid (21) takes a jump shot over Orlando Magic’s Bismack Biyombo (11) and Jonathon Simmons (17) in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, in Philadelphia. Then 76ers won 116-105. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
If the NBA’s regular season ended today, your Philadelphia 76ers would be in the playoffs.
By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
A Philadelphia 76ers team gearing up for a playoff run. Surprising?
No, it’s just something that Sixers fans haven’t heard in a good long while.
With 20-plus games left in the regular season, the Sixers are in the No. 7 spot in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Before Saturday’s game against the Orlando Magic, head coach Brett Brown talked about getting his team in condition for the stretch run to both close out the regular season and get ready for the playoffs.
“We want to play a lot better a lot longer,” Brown said. “My mission as we progress to playing in the playoffs is about us playing a lot longer.”
With the regular-season in the home stretch, Brown says he’s trying to keep his young squad focused.
“Anticipating what’s around the corner while trying not to do too much is a delicate balance,” he said.
Throughout the regular season, Brown has watched his team build huge leads only to lose them. As the season has moved forward, the Sixers are slowly, but surely learning how to win those games.
They’ve also had their share of “come from behind” victories and have learned how to win games when they’ve blown the lead.
Before the All-Star break, the Sixers recovered from a 20-point deficit to win by two over Miami. In their first game back from the break, the 76ers blew an 18-point lead against the Chicago Bulls, but recovered to win by two.
“As the season has gone along, a lot was made of the evaporation of leads and me trying to find some level of a silver lining,” Brown said. “I would always remind them and our coaches to look at the leads that they create rather than scold them. The evaporation of leads would amount to some of the same things. Someone hit a lot of threes, we turned it over too much and we put them to the line too quickly.
“We’re trying to grow this group, sub this group and trying to navigate those negative experiences to become more hardened to April 18th [start of the playoffs].”