Chocolate Thunder and CJ help the Sixers to the NBA Finals.
The 76ers were one of the top teams in the NBA from the mid-1970s thru the early 1980s but could not break thru to win the NBA championship (but they did usually get through the second round).
One of their weaknesses was rebounding, particularly on the offensive end. In the 1979 Eastern Conference semifinals, against the San Antonio Spurs, the Sixers found themselves down 3 games to 1. A significant problem was the Spurs starting Billy (the Whopper) Paultz at center and burly Mark Olberding at forward.
Sixers’ forwards Bobby Jones and Julius Erving were each future Hall of Famers, but they got simply outmuscled on the boards. Center Caldwell Jones was a good rebounder but he could not do it all.
For Game 5, coach Billy Cunningham did what Mazzulla would do 44 years later, start another big, in this case, massive Darryl Dawkins. With Jones and Dawkins starting, the Sixers won the next two games and lost Game 7 by just three points.
For the next three seasons, the Sixers went with the ‘Twin Towers’ of Jones and fan favorite Dawkins in the starting lineup – with very good success.
They fell to the Los Angeles Lakers twice in the NBA finals and would have made it three straight trips to the championship round if they did not blow a 3-1 lead over the Celtics in the East finals.
However, Sixers fans and management were tired of being close but no cigar. In the summer of 1982, they traded for Moses Malone and got rid of Caldwell Jones and Dawkins.
Interestingly, despite losing two starters and replacing them with one, Bobby Jones did not return to the starting lineup. Instead, the Sixers kept with the ‘Twin Towers’ concept and had Marc Iavaroni, a 6-10 free agent who had primarily played in Europe, to start in the open power forward position.
That 1982-83 76ers ended up doing pretty well with that lineup.
The Sixers then went away from the big lineups, They traded Malone and what would have been center-of-the-future Brad Daugherty to go instead with smaller lineups.
How has that worked out? Well, how many championships have the Sixers won since 1983 (hint, rhymes with Zero)?
If the Sixers do indeed end up starting Reed or Bamba, or at least during a game have Embiid on the floor at the same time with one of them, it is something that has worked in the Sixers’ past.