The new year is officially here which means it’s time to review everything that happened in 2018 for the Philadelphia 76ers. What a special year it was for this young team.
It certainly was a good year overall with some heart-breaking losses and bizarre injuries mixed in.
Let’s start with the second half of last season.,
Racking up wins
The 2017-2018 season did not start well for the 76ers. Through October, November and December of 2017 their 17-19 record left much to be desired. They consistently blew double-digit leads and were without Markelle Fultz.
Everything changed when 2018 rolled around. They started the year by beating the San Antonio Spurs, 112-106, at home. It was head coach Brett Brown’s first win against his former team.
The team went 7-5 for the month and would never have a below .500 record in a month for the rest of the year.
The season ended on a 16-game winning streak, the longest in franchise history. Even more impressive was sustaining success without Joel Embiid.
Embiid suffered a left orbital fracture after colliding with Fultz against the New York Knicks on Mar. 28. The 76ers won every regular season game after that going 8-0. Ben Simmons showed his ability to carry a team when needed.
The momentum continued into the playoffs after a five-year playoff drought. They would defeat the Miami Heat in the first round in the playoffs winning the series, 4-1.
The magic ended when their series with the Boston Celtics started. The 76ers lost the first two games of the series in Boston, including blowing a 22-point lead in Game 2.
Game 3 was perhaps the worst of all when Marco Belinelli hit a game-tying two-point shot with no time left in regulation. The problem was everyone thought he hit a 3-pointer, which would have ended the game. Confetti was released from the rafters and after the two-point shot was confirmed, a long delay was needed to clean up the court.
The 76ers lost the game in overtime, 101-98, and eventually the series ended in five games. The series was certainly the lowest point of the calendar year.
The year of Embiid
We can’t talk about the 2017-2018 season without dedicating some time to Joel Embiid.
He put the 76ers back on the NBA map with his antics on and off the court. He’s a polarizing player because of his size and speed and entertains the crowd like no other in the league.
Embiid earned his first all-star berth and started for Team Stephen Curry’s team in the game. If Curry’s team would have won, Embiid probably would have walked away with the MVP award. In 20 minutes, he scored 19 points, to go along with eight rebounds and two blocks.
“Before the game, during the whole season, I kind of thought I was a top-five, top-10 player in the league,” Embiid said. “Coming in here before the game, I wanted confirmation of it. I felt like I can hang with them. I had a lot of fun.”
He certainly proved his all-star status and has cemented himself as a top-10 player in the game. Not bad for a guy in his second year in the league.
Embiid finished the season with 63 regular season games played. He averaged 22.9 points and 11 rebounds per game.
The 76ers have built off last season’s playoff push. They finished the calendar year 23-14, fourth in the Eastern Conference.
Embiid averaged 26.5 points and 13.3 rebounds, while playing in 35 of 37 games.
Ben Simmons averaged 15.9 points, 8.5 rebound and 8.1 assists and didn’t miss a game.
Oh, by the way the 76ers acquired four-time all-star Jimmy Butler on Nov. 12. He has hit two game winners on the road in Charlotte and Brooklyn.
Injuries played a role to start the season with Fultz leaving the team on Nov. 20 because of a shoulder injury. Lottery pick Zhaire Smith has yet to play because of a fractured foot and an allergic reaction during his rehab.
I’m sure there will be plenty more to happen in 2019. Happy New Year everyone!
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