The Philadelphia 76ers clinched their first playoff berth since 2011 with a 120-108 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night. The Sixers were led by Joel Embiid, who scored 19 points and grabbed six rebounds, and Ben Simmons, who totaled 15 points, 13 assists, and 12 rebounds. The postseason berth indicates that the “Trust The Process” era is officially over.
With the win, the Sixers improved to 42-30 on the season. If you’re a fan of the Golden State Warriors or Cleveland Cavaliers, that win total means nothing. However, to the fans of the Sixers, they have watched their team go from a total of 47 wins over a three season span, to contenders with a playoff spot.
In 2016, it all began to change for the better. The Sixers improved on their 10-game win total by going 28-54. While they still managed to find themselves in the NBA Lottery and outside the playoffs, the atmosphere in Philly, and the locker room, was changed. The main reason for that was Embiid.
While Embiid only played in 31 games in 2016, he provided the city and team with hope. During his brief time on the floor, he let the Sixers’ brass know that he was the real deal. Not only did his play stand out, but with his injury and that of No. 1 draft pick Ben Simmons, players like Dario Saric, Robert Covington, and T.J. McConnell were handed extra playing time. Injuries allowed them to gel as a unit, plus get the crunch time minutes most young players at their stage never get.
With Embiid and Simmons healthy, coupled with offseason pickups in J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson, the Sixers have managed to do what many felt they couldn’t in such a short time. Even with a young team, the Sixers believe they can turn heads once the playoffs start. They might be a young bunch, however, confidence has never been an issue with this team.
According to NBC Sports, with the season winding down, head coach Brett Brown said he would like to rest Embiid, but Embiid is determined to stay the course. This is not a player trying to disrespect his coach; this is a young guy who has taken heat for being fragile and is healthy enough to prove that he and his team belong in the NBA playoffs.
It’s been a long road for the Sixers, and with their clinching win against the Timberwolves, the first step is complete.