The Philadelphia 76ers have had an incredible season thus far, but the true test for them will be after the All-Star break.
The Philadelphia 76ers season got off to a very rough start, with the team starting 0-7 after dropping some very winnable games early on in the season. Since then, however, the team has really hit stride after stride, and seems to be on the cusp of greatness.
With Joel Embiid leading the way, and other rookies Dario Saric and Timothe Luawu-Cabarrot quickly falling in-line, the team looks like they have something great at the foundation that could help them be competitive for years to come.
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The months leading up to the All-Star break have been a dream for the Sixers, and it really seems to be foreshadowing of more and more good that is to come. But the post All-Star break period will be a real test for the Sixers.
The Sixers were really lucky to have a favorable schedule prior to the All-Star break. Of the 56 games scheduled for the Sixers prior to the break, only 27 of them were on the road, less than half. The Sixers have 26 games to play after the All-Star game, with 14 (a little more than half) of those being on the road. Additionally, the Sixers will have to face off against the Golden State Warriors twice, Oklahoma City Thunder, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Atlanta Hawks who they have had repeated trouble with this year.
Among those away games is a four-game West Coast road trip (luckily the middle two games are both in Los Angeles, which means there will be less travel), and a string of five away games in eight days.
The Sixers have one string of four games in a row at home, but that comes at the end of the season where the team may have already kissed their playoff hopes goodbye if they can’t overcome some clear disadvantages in the scheduling.
Aside from that four-game home stand, the Sixers’ longest stretch of games without having to leave home is three games, and aside from that, they only have two two-game stretches.
With all of that in mind, it’s easy to predict that the Sixers still might have a prosperous post-All-Star stretch, given that the team has performed well, and that they also are likely debuting Ben Simmons either shortly before the All-Star break or shortly after.
That said, there may be some troubles as far as getting Simmons acclimated with the rest of the roster, and there may be some bumps to overcome along the way through the last stretch of games. With that in mind, the last stretch seems a bit daunting for the Sixers, but their success or failure is going to be determined by how much they’re up to the task.
If the Sixers approach these rough stretch of games with the same focused mindset that they’ve approached the past several games, then they will likely do well and see their roster come together as one, even with the shaking addition of Simmons.
That said, if they let the road trips get to them, if they fall even a little off of their focus, and if the roster changes cause issue, there’s reason to believe the Sixers will be seeing a lot of losing after the All-Star break, which could be detrimental to their short-term success.