If you didn’t know it already, the last couple of months in the NBA news cycle should’ve taught you that teams being great one season doesn’t necessarily translate to repeat performances in future seasons. The league changes in the blink of an eye.
And with the Boston Celtics facing tumult, there may be an opportunity to take advantage of vulnerability in the Eastern Conference. The Phoenix Suns are dealing with Jae Crowder’s trade request and potentially being sold. That’s one team in the field of Western Conference contenders dealing with disorder.
The Sixers have to take advantage and put themselves in favorable position heading into the 2023 playoffs. Last season, they finished 13th in the league in offense, according to Cleaning The Glass. They were 11th in defense.
10 of the past 11 champions have finished in the top 10 of the league on both sides of the ball. It’s essentially a requirement of being an elite team.
The Sixers have everything to prove. But, head coach Doc Rivers is bullish about one side of the ball right now.
“We really look at the time we had with James. I think we were number 2 in offense and number 13 in defense, I think, if our numbers are right. That’s why we’re confident. That’s one of the reasons we wanted to make sure we got James back through a full season and then add guys,” Rivers said at media day on Monday morning.
“We think we’ve added to our team, offensively. We do think we have to do a couple things better, obviously. We’re very confident offensively. We have to become a better defensive team.”
Cleaning The Glass estimates that the offense ranked 10th in the league over the 21 regular-season games Harden played with the Sixers last season. But, Rivers’ broader point is correct. His team has so much firepower on the offensive side of the ball that the optimism should be real.
The questions start on the defensive side of the ball. And only time will tell if the Sixers have the horses to push into the upper third of the league in that department.