By By Paul Hudrick
The Sixers will be without the services of Jimmy Butler (back) Monday and Joel Embiid (knee/load management) for Monday and Wednesday.
If they’re unable to beat the lowly Mavericks and Hawks, you might as well pack it in. They have no shot to reach the NBA Finals if they lose these next two games in Dallas and Atlanta. Brett Brown should lose his job right after the sure losses. All these bold moves by Elton Brand for naught!
But seriously, is it more important to beat two teams that are a combined 37 games below .500 or deliver Embiid and Butler to the playoffs healthy? Maybe those two things aren’t mutually exclusive, but then again, maybe they are. Besides, the Sixers have a 4.5 game lead for the East's third seed with six games to play. How much is really at stake here?
That’s not to say Embiid and Butler missing time is ideal. The Sixers’ new-look starting five doesn’t have much experience together. They still need to develop a little more chemistry — especially on the defensive end.
But look at what they’ve done when they’ve played together. They’re 8-2 in 10 games when they’ve all started. They took down the team with the best record in the NBA on the road and finally beat their boogeyman in Boston. Among current NBA starting lineups that have played at least 160 minutes together, the Sixers’ unit has the best net rating at 17.6. They also have a plus-7.5 point differential, the highest mark of any five-man lineup that’s played at least 10 games...