When the Philadelphia 76ers had its best teams, they were led by some very talented big men. The 1966-67 team, which won the NBA championship had Wilt Chamberlain leading the way. The 1982-83 Sixers that captured the league title had Moses Malone. The 2000-01 Sixers that went to the NBA Finals had Dikembe Mutombo.
This 76ers team has a big man, Joel Embiid, who has been dominating both ends of the court. Philadelphia has one of the best teams in the league and Embiid is a big reason why this Sixers could have the same success as some of the great teams from the past.
Embiid, a 7-foot, 250-pound center, has led the Sixers to a 47-25 record and the No. 3 spot in the NBA Eastern Conference standings. The 76ers are one of the league’s hottest teams. They are currently on a six-game winning streak, which includes Wednesday’s nights impressive 118-115 win over the Boston Celtics. Embiid put on quite a show tallying 37 points, 22 rebounds and four assists.
However, he has been shouldering the load throughout the season. Sixers’ head coach Brett Brown has seen Embiid dominate in so many areas.
“I mean where do you begin?,” Brown said. “Look at his rebounds, at his free throw attempts and then look at the free throws made, for a 7-2 center, anybody, that is an impressive stat. I think the responsibility, and sort of the weight given his history with this organization, certainly he’s aware of. I think he embraces it.”
Embiid is averaging 27.5 points, 13.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists a game this season. He’s a big man who is playing some huge basketball at the right time. He knows the Sixers came up with victories over the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics, respectively. With the Sixers having clinched a playoff spot, they could see the Bucks and the Celtics in the postseason.
“This is not the playoffs, it’s only the regular season, but the other day — last Sunday — we played against the [Milwaukee] Bucks and that had a feeling of a playoff game,” Embiid said. “We got that win and tonight [Wednesday] we got another against one of the teams we might compete for and get to the [Eastern Conference] finals. It was good to get both wins.”
Embiid knows exactly what he has to do carry this team to next level. He also knows there’s plenty of support with the talent around him like Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick.
“I’m the leader,” Embiid said. “I’ve been here the longest. You can call me whatever you wan to call [me] a franchise player, a superstar whatever. It doesn’t matter at the end of the day. I know what everybody believes, that what everybody puts on my shoulders, and to me it’s about coming out every night, and playing hard, and trying to help the team get wins. You see, I can’t do it alone. My teammates have been amazing. The coaches have been doing a great job.”
Chamberlain, Malone and Mutombo had a great players around them. Embiid seems to be surrounded by some sensational players who could make their mark in the postseason.