Head coach Doc Rivers doesn’t want to talks about his new-look Philadelphia 76ers building chemistry towards grand designs of a serious title run in 2023. No, he says the time to win championships is still now.
The 76ers (35-23) were one-half of the biggest trade in this year’s NBA trade deadline. In one fell swoop, general manager Daryl Morey was able to jettison disgruntled all-star point guard Ben Simmons and replace him with an MVP caliber talent in James Harden.
Despite the team being without Simmons for the entire season, they have still remained among the Eastern Conference elite. Currently sitting in first place in the Atlantic Division and third in the conference overall. Mostly, because of Joel Embiid’s unbelievable play this season.
Doc Rivers proclaims ‘time is now’ for Joel Embiid and James Harden to bring a championship to Philadelphia
Yet, now with the addition of Harden, they have gone from a strong one-man band to a legitimate contender, if certain things break right. One of those things would be for their star players to develop some chemistry and turn into the pick-and-roll monster many experts believe they can be. However, that may not come before the playoffs, and it could mean the duo may be more of a title threat in 2023.
- Joel Embiid (2021-2022) stats: 29.6 ppg, 11.2 reb, 4.5 ast
Rivers is familiar with leading a mixed team of homegrown all-stars and superstar mercenaries. He guided such a team in the Boston Celtics to the promised land in 2008. He sees some parallels between that team and his current one. Even when it comes to building chemistry with multiple stars. However, he believes that with the right talent, building championship chemistry isn’t something that needs to take six months or more to happen.
“I always think right now,” Rivers said during shootaround on Thursday. “I’ve been in this league too long. And I always go back to [the 2008 championship team]. Kevin [Garnett] and I talk about it all the time. I remember the first year during training camp we had a meeting and they were saying, ‘Man, we have to get it together. This might not be the year. But by next year, we might…’ I said, ‘Next year? Are you guys kidding me? Next year one of you can get hurt.’ I know it’s short. I know it’s going to be hard to get it together. But having said that, the time is always now.”
Harden is expected to make his 76ers debut following the all-star break on Feb. 25 when the team plays an away game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.