The Reporter (Lansdale, PA)
Embiid’s 76ers will be ready for playoffs
Sixers are well-situated to win Eastern Conference
PHILADELPHIA >> The overstatement, old and familiar, has been around sports for decades, so when Doc Rivers dusted it off a cover version other night, it should have been easily slotted into proper insignificance.
“That was a very,” Rivers said, “playoff game-ish atmosphere.”
The Sixers had just lost to the Celtics because one late shot came seconds before the horn and another came tenths of a second after, so on demand, there it was, handy and on time. But there is no such thing as a regular-season game with playoffs DNA, and the proof will come in a few weeks when, just before the postseason games begin, everyone involved will swear under virtual oath that they are not like the regular season at all. Actually, Rivers — who never utters a syllable without knowing with scientific precision what he is saying — was smart enough to include the “ish” suffix, just to open for himself that verbal back door.
Sports, though, is at its most fun when anxiety is blended into the mix, so a late-ish loss to the Celtics must become a siren call to the skeptics.
Same old Sixers.
Same old mistakes.
And, thus, the same old postseason results.
The lyrics are as familiar as those in Happy Birthday.
But before accusing the Sixers of everything from incompetence to destined to continue that 0-since-1983 slide, one question, and please answer yes or no: Have you seen Joel Embiid play this year? If not, then that would have been him going for 41 and 12 in that game. And if so, then in what solar system would a team with a player like that be out of place in a postseason basketball series against the