Philadelphia 76ers: 3 reasons to avoid midseason panic

Joel Embiid | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images) /

2. Defense travels

It’s no secret the Sixers hang their hats on defense. However congested and incoherent the offense may appear, when the games count and Philadelphia is locked in, no team has a higher defensive ceiling.

Embiid is the axle upon which Philadelphia’s elite defense turns, rivaling Rudy Gobert as the top rim protector in basketball. Al Horford helps fill the void when Embiid sits, and midway through the season, Ben Simmons has a compelling argument for first team All-Defense.

The Sixers’ smallest starter is the 6-foot-6 Josh Richardson, who brings his own sterling reputation to the defensive end. Philadelphia can bulldoze teams with size and physicality. If it doesn’t work on offense, it almost certainly can work on defense.

Brett Brown’s group isn’t without its flaws, but the Sixers have enough size, mobility, and rim protection to overcome the large majority of breakdowns. Embiid and Horford is an elite clean-up crew in the paint, Simmons can defend across five positions, and even Tobias Harris has stepped into positive territory as a defender.

The Sixers had the Bucks shellshocked on Christmas, and there’s evidence aplenty to suggest teams struggle to score against Philadelphia’s starting five. In a postseason setting, when everyone is focused and energetic, the Sixers will give the opposition fits.