Last Wednesday night around 10:45 p.m., I exhaled and tried to cope with the reality that the Sixers would not add to Philadelphia's incredible sports success in the past year. You might say that I should have been prepared for the Sixers to lose the series against the Celtics because no NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit, but I really believed that this very special team would turn in one more incredible performance by winning four games in a row. I really believed the mantra "one game at a time." After the Sixers won Game 4 on Monday night, I was a true believer, and when they surged to a 109-105 lead with a minute left, I thought, just two more to go. Unfortunately, fate abandoned us. JJ Redick shot a three-pointer that went 3/4 of the way down into the basket before spinning out. T.J. McConnell missed a 10-foot shot in the lane. And when the Sixers fell behind, Joel Embiid, who at times was incredibly dominant, missed an easy layup. It just wasn't to be.
After the Sixers were eliminated a number of commentators opined that they were much like the 2007 Phillies, who disappointed us by losing in the first round of the playoffs but went on to win two pennants and one World Series shortly thereafter. That comparison could turn out to be correct, but it is no sure thing. First, the Sixers have to find a way to integrate Markelle Fultz into the offense. If they can, he will be another weapon with the athletic ability to create his own scoring opportunities. Next, they need a little more scoring depth. Preferably, from a forward free agent – someone like Paul George. Third, we have to re-sign Redick for a number of years. Although the Celtics did a good job containing him in the last two games, his ability to hit difficult threes forced them to reconfigure their defense and opened up the paint for Simmons and Embiid to have a field day. Fourth, to quote the great Allen Iverson, Simmons has to "practice, practice, practice" his jump shot. He doesn't have to become a great jump shooter, just an adequate one. Interestingly, in his rookie season LeBron James had a field goal percentage of 41.7 percent and he was 29 percent from three-point range. But LeBron worked hard and taught himself to become a better jump shooter. This past season, he shot 54.2 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from three-point range. So, go to it Ben.