Tobias Harris scored 22 points as the Philadelphia 76ers retained its hold on top spot in the NBA Eastern Conference thanks to a 118-101 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night. The fourth win in a row for the improving 76ers.
With Joel Embiid landing a double double with 11 rebounds and 14 points, this was a solid performance by the 76ers that relied much on teamwork and each individual contributing, rather than a single individual dominating the game.
Charlotte Hornets | 01.04.21
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) January 5, 2021
The win keeps the 76ers ahead of the 5-2 Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference, as well as having played one game less than the 5-3 Boston Celtics.
With early season favourites the Milwaukee Bucks (4-3), Miami Heat (3-3), Brooklyn Nets (3-4), could the 76ers be set for a season for the ages?
Why the 76ers are the real deal
The 76ers are the form team in the NBA right now, winning all of their last four They have the best record of any team in the league and their points differential of +9.3 is second only to the free-scoring Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers.
Along with the Bucks, they are the only team in the NBA not to lose at home this season (winning all four of their home games, one more than the three the Bucks have managed).
They have beaten the Wizards, Knicks, Raptors, Magic and Hornets twice in those six wins,
beating teams at both ends of the Conference table. Their one defeat came at the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have won two of their three home games.
Furthermore, this is a squad that is young, improving, has a legitimate superstar of the NFL in Joel Embiid and that has a head coach in Doc Rivers who knows what it takes to win at the highest level. Add to that the NBA’s best defense and an offense which can still improve and there’s plenty to like for 76ers fans going forward.
Indeed, in the latest ESPN power rankings, the 76ers are ranked third, just below both LA teams, the Lakers and Clippers, in those rankings and that says a lot.
Other Results in the NBA
Other notable results in the NBA from Monday night saw Orlando defeat Cleveland 103-83, the
New York Knicks beat Atalanta 113-108. Giannis (pictured) was in great form for Milwaukee scoring 43 points in a 125-112 win for the Bucks against the Detroit Pistons. Similarly, Jayson Tatum scored an eye-catching 40 points as the Boston Celtics defeated the Toronto Raptors 126-114.
The most exciting game was the Indiana Pacers 118-118 overtime win over New Orleans with Victor Oladipo hitting 25 crucial points for the Pacers, while Golden State Warriors continued their fine offensive form netting 137 points to Sacramento’s 106, Stephen Curry adding a further 30 points to add to the 62 he netted the day before.
The 76ers will be looking to move to 7-1 when they host the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, wgile the Western Conference leaders the Los Angeles Clippers play tonight against the San Antonio Spurs, while their city rivals the Los Angeles Lakers face the Memphis Grizzlies in an earlier game.
76ers will face tougher tests
There’s no doubt that the 76ers will face tougher tests over the season. A double header with Miami looms in the middle of January and they face the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night. A double-header with Boston and a game a short time laters with the Lakers also looks a tricky stretch.
So too does the end of the season with fixtures against Dallas, Cleveland, Indiana and Utah to complete the 76ers final games of the season.
By then though the 76ers may well have already secured themselves a place in the NBA Playoffs and as Tobias Maxey noted after the win over Charlotte last night:
“We have a long way to go, and I think that’s the beauty of it. We’re trying to push for something greater.”
DraftKings Online Sportsbook rates the 76ers as a +2000 chance to win the NBA Championship and those odds could tumble if Philadelphia can continue their excellent start to the season.