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The first half of the season was highlighted by Joel Embiid’s second MVP-caliber campaign for the 76ers

Jan 17, 2023

The Philadelphia 76ers played their 41st game of the season, a 133 to 114 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, marking the team’s official halfway point. The Sixers have completed half of their schedule and are currently 25 to 16, which places them fifth in the tough Eastern Conference, after the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Cleveland Cavaliers.

In spite of the fact that important players Tyrese Maxey, James Harden, and Joel Embiid all had to miss some time due to actual injuries, the team still managed to set a record. The Sixers have been exceptionally strong at home, where they have a 17 to 7 record, but they have struggled away from Philadelphia, where they have won just eight of their last 17 games. Over the course of the second half of the schedule, the squad should concentrate on improving their performance away from home.

Now seems like an acceptable moment to assess the team’s performance and consider some key learnings from the first 41 games, as well as any lingering concerns, before moving on to the second half of the season and preparing for the playoff push.

Joel Embiid has once again put forth an MVP-caliber season.

After coming in second place to Nikola Jokic for the MVP the previous two seasons, Joel Embiid is putting out a third straight campaign that should make him a strong candidate for the league’s top individual award. The big man is leading a top-five defense and averaging career highs in points (33.6) and assists (4.4) per game so far this season. He also adds 9.9 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 1.1 steals, and a number of other stats.

After dominating the NBA last season, he is currently second in scoring in the NBA this year behind Luka Doncic, and he has been putting up some incredible numbers.

De’Anthony Melton has been added.

De’Anthony Melton has been Philadelphia’s most successful offseason acquisition thus far. As a player who can consistently provide floor-spacing around Embiid and Harden on one end while playing tenacious perimeter defense on the other, Melton has proven to be a great match for Philadelphia.

Melton began the season as a reserve, but owing to Harden and Maxey’s injuries, he moved to the starting lineup for a prolonged period. Melton has performed well no matter where he has played; however, he has recently moved back to the bench as those players have become healthy. While shooting 42 percent from the field and 39 percent from long distance, he is averaging career highs in minutes played (29.8), points (11.7), rebounds (4.7), and steals (1.9). When the Sixers acquired him in a trade in June, he was all they could have hoped for, and they will continue to rely heavily on him to guide their strategy throughout the rest of the campaign.

Combined Defense

The Sixers’ declared goal going into the season was to build the best defense in the NBA.

At media day, Embiid stated of the club, “Our concentration is on defense. “We want to be the best defensive team in the league, and it’s going to take all of us. I got to get back to not waiting until the fourth [quarter] to be that person, and then doing it all game. For me, coming into this year, we just want to concentrate on that.”

The Cleveland Cavaliers presently have the honor; nevertheless, they are close. Following the Cavaliers, Grizzlies, and Bucks, Philadelphia presently possesses the fourth-best defense in the NBA. Their play on that end is characterized by forced turnovers and paint protection.

The team forces the seventh-most turnovers per game and allows the sixth-fewest points in the paint per game (47.8) in the whole league (15.6). The versatility of newcomers Melton and P.J., in addition to Embiid’s paint-patrolling, is another asset. On that side of the floor, Tucker was an assistance. Melton’s presence allays some of the remaining concerns about how the defensive backcourt of Harden and Maxey will hold up, particularly in a playoff series. The Sixers should be confident in their defense overall at this point in the season.

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