Forget the Boston Celtics. Let go of fear. And once again trust the process as the Philadelphia 76ers embark on a crucial close to the NBA regular season.
Remember that “trust the process” phrase? The Philadelphia 76ers once again need it.
No, not in the sense of waiting for ping pong balls to bounce the right way or for diamonds in the rough to develop, but to believe in themselves. To believe in their coaches. To believe in their talent. And to believe in each other.
With 14 games to go in the regular season, the Sixers currently hold the fourth playoff seed in the East. The Bucks and Raptors seem firmly entrenched at the top, while the Sixers, Pacers, and Celtics vie for the next three spots. If the season ended right now, the Sixers would host the Celtics in a pivotal first-round matchup.
More from Philadelphia 76ers
- Philadelphia 76ers: Doc Rivers is a perfect mentor for Kevin Porter Jr.
- Philadelphia 76ers: Did Tilman Fertitta purposely stick it to Daryl Morey?
- Philadelphia 76ers: Frank Mason III is the perfect 18th man
- Philadelphia 76ers: It’s time to take Isaiah Joe seriously
- Philadelphia 76ers: As it turns out, the season isn’t over after all
Yes, the vaunted Boston Celtics.
The team that sent the 76ers packing just one year ago with relative ease.
The team that has already won all three matchups this season.
The team that – despite in-house squabbles throughout much of the season – seems to own real estate inside the 76ers’ collective heads.
The team that no Sixers fan wants to see their beloved squad face; especially not in the first round.
While next Wednesday will provide the final regular-season clash between the two Eastern Conference contenders, the Sixers’ focus must remain centered on the moment.
The Sixers ultimately control their own destiny. All teams do. And while much talk in the media and among fans revolves around playoff seeding and trying to avoid a first-round matchup with the Celtics, the Sixers need to embrace it. The Sixers need to embrace every matchup.
And I think they do.
After General Manager Elton Brand‘s barrage of in-season trades, the Sixers are all-in for championship basketball. These last 14 games will determine the Sixers’ playoff success (or lack thereof).
Joel Embiid is back. Jimmy Butler– ironically enough- is one of the longest-tenured regulars on the active roster. Tobias Harris has been in Philly for a full month. Boban Marjanovic is back on the court after missing six games. The puzzle pieces are all in front of Brett Brown. He and the players have to work together to put them in place.
As Brown has alluded to many times recently, the Sixers are on the third installation of their 2018-2019 team.
First, there was the team coming out of training camp. Next, you had the Jimmy Butler squad. Now we see version 3.0 with Tobias Harris and company.
“There is time. Fourteen games, one month; in my view, there is time to have as perfect a vanilla as we can have and use it as a launching pad to ride the wave of playoff emotion, momentum. You know, you hear me talk about, let’s land the plane, let’s keep everybody in the boat. Let’s keep the spirit, let’s grow the structure. Let’s understand rotations. … In my head I know it. If you made me guess, I could tell you exactly how I’m going to rotate this team. When it’s healthy. And that’s the plan.” (Brett Brown courtesy philly.com)
The Sixers began training camp on September 21 ahead of their regular season opener against the Celtics on October 16. With the 2019 playoffs slated to start April 13, now they have similar time to land the plane, keep everybody in the boat, keep the spirit, and grow the structure while understanding rotations.
Just where that plane/boat/spirit that Brett Brown references is headed will be determined by the players’ ability to buy in through these final 14 games.
If they do, the view can be glorious, regardless of stops along the way. Trust that.