one game back

one game back

One game back: Sixers eye third seed after pummeling surging Rockets

Sixers are only one game back behind Indiana after destroying Houston

Monday night was can’t miss NBA basketball. In dramatic fashion, the Sixers put themselves one game back of the third seed in the Eastern Conference with a convincing 121-93 win over Houston.

The Houston Rockets have been moving back up in the Western standings while Philly has been tested by top teams in the league. Houston’s James Harden has been on an absolute tear, posting triple-doubles what seems like every night.

ADVERTISEMENT

He has solidified himself as one of the top players in the league, especially on the offensive end. There isn’t a player in the league who can stop him, especially his patented step back three.

37 points and six rebounds is actually an off night for Harden. It’s not possible to slow him down completely but Philly did just enough to keep him cool. Only two other Rockets scored in double figures.

ADVERTISEMENT

One game back of the third seed isn’t a bad place to be for a team who has been through the wringer when it comes to drama and other off the court issues. Despite the roller coaster season, from the Jimmy Butler trade to a Markelle Fultz-less season, it has been a real thrill ride.

The third seed is a perfect goal for Philly heading into the all-star weekend. They just demolished Indiana on their turf last week, and Houston is not easily beat by double digits.

Philly can take a commanding lead in the Eastern Conference if they continue to fire on all cylinders and keep the media out of the locker room.

Looks like Corey Brewer’s 10-day contract is already paying off for Philly:

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s a bumpy road to the 2019 all-star game

With 10 games left until the 2019 all-star weekend, Philly is in a great position to put Indiana one game back, or even more. Unfortunately, the road ahead is a brutal lineup for any team to encounter.

The Sixers will have to play the defending champion Golden State Warriors as well as the second-seeded Denver Nuggets twice. Can’t forget about the Raptors and the Boston Celtics. The only bright side is a couple of free games like Miami and New York.

The scary part about these next 10 games is the impact they could have on the rest of the season. If Philly decides to slump now and get lazy, they could be looking at no home court advantage throughout the entire 2019 playoffs.

It’s crucial that Philly surges now so they can buckle down and get into post-season mode after the all-star weekend. The rest of the Eastern Conference is thinking the same thing. One game back could turn into three or four if the Sixers can’t close out any close games.

Joel Embiid was an absolute star on Monday night:

Give em’ Hell, Joel!

Recently, one player has been carrying the offensive load night in and night out. Although most fans are thinking or at least hoping it’s Jimmy ‘Buckets’ since he was brought in to do just that, score buckets.

Over the last of couple months, the offensive juggernaut of the Sixers has been none other than Kansas product Embiid. He has been absolutely phenomenal over the past few games. and his 32 points and 12 rebounds were no joke against Houston.

Although fans got to enjoy a monster performance from Embiid, it won’t help Philly to be without Butler. A sprained wrist is not going to do him any favors, especially over this grueling 10-game stretch.

Fortunately for Philly, Embiid has no reservations about picking up the scoring load. Consequently, the major drawback to losing is Butler is his late game heroics. He hit two game-winners in his first week with the team if that doesn’t tell fans how to clutch he really is.

Embiid and the rest of the Sixers squad will have a daunting task ahead of them. They are only one game back from proving to critics that trading for Butler was the right move. One game back of looking Toronto and Milwaukee in the eye and saying, “We got next”. If it isn’t apparent to fans and every other team around the league, Philly has next.

All stats via Basketball-reference.com
Featured Image: Derral Chen via Flickr.com