The Philadelphia 76ers are the bell of the NBA playoffs

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

In the Philadelphia 76ers first playoff series in over half a decade, the young core of Embiid, Saric, and Simmons are turning heads around the NBA.

After defeating the Miami Heat in Game 3, by a score of128-108, the Philadelphia 76ers are changing the minds of the so-called experts, as the sports nation is abuzz about this young and improving team.

Yes, its surprising what the New Orleans Pelicans are doing to the typically high powered Portland Trail Blazers and there is some intrigue in LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, but with Philly now back at full strength, the NBA world is excited about the potential of this scrappy and talented team from Philadelphia.

Joel Embiid delivered in his playoff debut, recording 23 points, seven boards, and four dimes while blocking three shots and deterring the Heat players from scoring anything near the basket. Sure, his protective mask has been a distraction at times during the game, but Embiid had his playoff face on and no matter how many protective masks the big man went through during the course of the game, no one could break his will or the will of his Sixers.

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Dario Saric has been the steadying influence so far throughout the playoffs while delivering an intensity that has propelled him into the conversation as the third most important member of this young squad. Rookie Markelle Fultz has at times seemed overwhelmed by the playoff spotlight but Brett Brown has had his finger on the pulse of his team and continues to make the proper substitutions at critical moments of the game. And J.J. Redick? Well, J.J. Redick has been the consummate, sharpshooting professional.

In Game 3, Brown called on little utilized, but always ready Justin Anderson to frustrate future Hall-of-Famer Dwyane Wade in a move that ensured that the slippery guard was held in check all evening, finishing the night with only eight points in 25 minutes of action.

Even T.J. McConnell, while playing limited minutes, has provided what Sixers nation has come to expect from the diminutive guard all season long: grit.

As for the team’s veteran forwards, well, what is there to say that hasn’t already been said?

While Robert Covington has yet to have a breakout game so far this series, his stamp has been all this series, as he has been involved in almost every deflection leading to a fast break. Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova? Pure gold. The duos savvy and scoring prowess has provided the team with just the right amount of veteran leadership that makes the Sixers one of, if not the deepest team in the playoffs, save Golden State.

Brown is pushing all the right buttons and covering up for all the Sixers deficiencies as the young team is finding their playoff legs in spectacular fashion. They are playing Philly tough basketball and telling their opponents about it.

Related Story: No Justise for the Miami Heat in Game 3

And to add the perfect icing to a delicious cake Ben Simmons has been simply PHENOMENAL. There is no answer for the rookie point guard as he is the lynchpin for a team that plays defense with active hands and physical play. Even his free throw percentage, notoriously one of his game’s weaker aspects, is much higher in the playoffs so far than it was in the regular season (75 percent as opposed to 55) and the Sixers just flow so much better when he is on the floor.

Amir Johnson has provided quality, if limited, minutes in relief of the injured Embiid but with Joel back, it just seems like the Sixers create too many matchup problems for whomever they face. Offensively, Embiid was understandably rusty in Game 3, but STILL lead his team to a 20 point victory on enemy court.

Next: The reintroduction of Justin Anderson

After years of suffering through losing basketball year after year, words cannot express just how much of a treat it has been to hear the Sixers name on the tip of national sports analysts tongues as the team takes aim at the Eastern Conference. And it is just getting started, as the Philadelphia 76ers are now the bell of the NBA’s playoff ball.