Sixers Lead

76ers Will Need to Keep Composure as Season Progresses

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The NBA announced two game suspensions for both Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns on Thursday. The suspensions come after a brawl that broke out during Wednesday’s game between the Sixers and the Timberwolves.

 

Fortunately for the Sixers, Ben Simmons dodged a suspension and fine. Simmons put Towns in a chokehold during the altercation, but did not see an ejection. Referees ruled that Simmons was acting as a “peacekeeper” during the brawl. Despite this, there was speculation Simmons would still see discipline from the NBA. Ultimately, the NBA sided with the officials and didn’t punish Simmons. This is great news for Philadelphia as they look to continue their hot start.

 

Replacing Joel

When Philadelphia entered free agency this summer, one goal was to get a center who could replace Embiid. Al Horford was signed to help with Joel Embiid’s rest. Instead, he’ll fill in during this suspension. The Sixers don’t have that same luxury with Ben Simmons. The Sixers have games coming up against Portland and Phoenix, two teams that feature talented backcourts. Portland features superstars CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard. Phoenix is looking stable with Devin Booker and Ricky Rubio. Philadelphia couldn’t afford to lose Simmons to suspension. Al Horford replaces Embiid as a capable center who can handle the job for two games. Philadelphia can use this suspension as a chance to get more minutes for the bench. Rookie Matisse Thybulle is one player who will see an immediate benefit. Thybulle has been great on defense, and will have the opportunity to get more experience.

Suspensions are never ideal. With the Sixers playing a new brand of bully ball this season, however, it was bound to happen. The suspension of Joel Embiid will be felt by Philadelphia, but it is not a two-game death sentence. Philadelphia can handle Embiid missing games here and there. They cannot, however, handle the potential absence of Ben Simmons. Embiid’s suspension will allow him to rest and allow Ben Simmons to run the show. The Sixers are lucky Ben Simmons was not punished, as the road ahead without him is much more difficult.

Moving Forward

While bully ball is a viable defensive strategy, it’s important to keep emotions under control. Philadelphia needs to ensure that these fights don’t become a regular occurrence. The presence of Al Horford should help keep the young players in check, as he has already voiced his disapproval of the brawl. As the season continues and intensity increases, opposing teams may use this energy against Philadelphia. In that case, players like Mike Scott and Joel Embiid need to take a higher road and avoid getting physical. While it’s early in the season now, a suspension during a crucial late season stretch could be crippling.

The uptick in intensity is admirable and indicates Philly has decided on their identity, but it needs to be kept in check. Al Horford will play a key role in that, both keeping the team’s emotions in check and spelling Joel Embiid when those emotions do get high. If Philadelphia can maintain some peace during the turmoil, they’ll be nearly unstoppable in the wide open Eastern Conference.

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About Dave Pedron

As a Pennsylvania native, Penn State grad, and diehard Sixers fan, I'm very excited to cover the team and usher in the next chapter of the Process.

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