NBA

NBA Playoffs: With Joel Embiid playing at MVP level

What we witnessed on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia was something short of a coronation. After all, coronations do not happen in the second round of the playoffs, and they most certainly do not happen in a Game 3.

What the Philadelphia 76ers’ 116-95 blowout of the visiting Toronto Raptors was, however, was a terrifying vision of what the best version of the 76ers look like.

And, woo boy — that’s a team that not only can win the East. That’s a team that maybe, just maybe, can win it all, and get that official coronation come June.

We knew going into the playoffs this Sixers starting five — Joel Embiid, Jimmy “James” Butler, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and J.J. Redick — was one of the top five-man lineups in the NBA. We also knew that these Sixers brought with them as much variance as any other top-tier team in the NBA. There was the lack of depth to account for. The lack of spacing. The fact this group only had a couple months together to jell after the trade deadline. The combustibility of Butler, the inexperience of Simmons, and most of all, that nagging knee of Embiid. All these things meant there was as vast of a gap between the Sixers’ ceiling and the Sixers’ floor as any other team left in these playoffs.

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