76ers’ offense hitting at right time for 2023 playoffs

(Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

Philadelphia 76ers fans are optimistic about the postseason. Why, you ask? The Sixers are currently looking unbeatable with their playing style and form. They have the best record in the league for March, and this is the perfect timing to boost your inner-self going into the playoffs. Well, for this optimism, much credit has to be given to the Sixers’ offense at the moment.

The Philly team was 3rd best in the East right from the All-Star break. They still hold the same seeding, but their offensive stats have risen to another level. Philadelphia 76ers are averaging 115 points per game this season, a huge 6-point surge from the last season. And in March, the Sixers are averaging staggering 124 points, which includes some of the elite defensive teams like the Miami Heat and the Bucks. The Philly team won 8 out of 9 games in that period, where their offense overshadowed their defense.

It is fair to say that their offense is clicking on an unprecedented level, giving them a huge game advantage. The Sixers currently have their best offensive rating, 117 – the best in the East. January’s Coach of the Month winner Doc Rivers would also be happy with the team’s performance and offensive flow. Let us dive more into the Sixers’ offense, which might be good enough to clinch their 3rd overall title.

James Harden and Joel Embiid are showing true “brotherly love”.  

When it comes to the Sixers’ offense, it flows through James Harden and Joel Embiid. The Philly duo is topping the assist and scoring chart, respectively and could eventually become the first teammates to lead the NBA in assists and scoring since 1981-82.

Joel Embiid is having a mammoth season at the moment. Along with the scoring title, he is leading the MVP race also. With points in the paint, long-range shooting, pick-n-roll play, and so on, “JoJo” seems to have perfected every shot in the 2023 season. He is shooting at 54.5% from the field, which is his career best, and also maintaining high (35.5%) efficiency from the range.

Averaging 33.5 points per game this season, Embiid is nearly scoring a point per minute on the floor. He has played just 79 more minutes than points scored this season – a jaw-dropping output from the big man. Embiid scored thirty or more points in 40 games played, and the Sixers won 70% of those games. And not to forget, Embiid is currently on a 7-game run with 30 or more points.

And now comes the architect of the Sixers’ offense – James Harden. Former MVP, scoring champion, and assist leader is more in a facilitator role for the Sixers in the 2023 season. Just like Embiid’s scoring, Harden’s higher assist rate has greatly impacted the result. Harden has 33 games with ten or more assists, winning 70% of them. This ratio goes up to 85% when Harden has 15 or more assists in the game. Joel has benefited the most from this, scoring more than 450 points off Harden’s assists this season alone.

James is the only player to reach the 20 assists mark in the 2023 season and has done so twice. Apart from scoring, Harden has also affected games with his shooting. Although he might have had fewer games with 25 or more points, the 33-year-old megastar is shooting 39% beyond the arc, which is his career best. And now that we have seen what a perfectly fit Harden can do on a nightly basis, the picture is very much terrifying for the Sixers’ opponents. Besides Embiid, Harden maintains the Sixers’ position in the title contention.

While we’ve looked at Embiid’s pursuit of the scoring title and Harden’s pursuit of the assist title separately, the key to all this is their synergy on the court. As said earlier, James and Joel have shown true brotherly love this season since Harden’s play making, and Embiid’s scoring have meshed together seamlessly for the Sixers.

The Sixers bench is stepping up in the offense.

Philadelphia 76rs has been very much Embiid-reliant at both ends of the floor. Joel Embiid is their difference maker, but the team needed a potent support cast in recent history. The start of the 2023 season was not very different, as Embiid alone could outscore the Sixers’ bench in many games. Just around the All-star break, the Sixers’ bench averaged merely 31 points per game, with Maxey as the 6th man in many of those games.

But now, new energy and an urge to win the 2023 NBA title affected positively on the Sixers’ bench. The Philly bench is averaging 35 points per game in recent matches, with their top scorer Maxey moving to the starting line-up. This is a great show by the heavily dependent group of players.

The 2023 season also saw a shift in the winning ratio without Joel Embiid on the floor. In 2022, the Sixers lost 8 out of 14 games, averaging 105 points without their star man in the line-up. But this season, the team has 9 out of 13 wins, maintaining a healthy 116-scoring average.

Tyrese Maxey adds 20 points every game, and Harris also balances the Sixers’ offense and defense. Yet, the Sixers’ fans will be happier about the output from Shake Milton, Niang and co. who has proven more productive offensively in recent outings. Apart from the scoring, the support cast has adjusted well to the ball movement and spacing, helping their primary scorers to do more damage. De’Anthony Melton would be a candidate for the defensive team of the season, but he is also chipping in with 11 points per game – and has been more productive offensively in the last few fixtures.