Many of the 76ers are going through individual workouts and gearing up for the resumption of the season. There are still details to be worked out, but the Sixers and all NBA teams are expected to begin training camp on June 30, leave for Orlando the following week, with regular-season games beginning on July 30.

Regular-season basketball in July and August?

Playoff basketball from mid-August through the second week of October?

That is what the fans have to look forward to and the question is whether they buy it.

You’re signed up to get this newsletter in your inbox every Monday during the pandemic shutdown. If you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @SJNard. Thank you for reading.

— Marc Narducci (offthedribble@inquirer.com)

Gauging the interest in a re-started NBA season

The Sixers and the NBA last staged games on March 11, which means there will be four-and-a-half months between games.

Will the audience be looking forward to it?

There are two schools of thought. The first is that the sport’s fans will be so desperate to watch top-quality athletes that they will flock to their television sets in record numbers.

Then there is the second set during this pandemic, people have gotten used to not watching sports and found other things to do. Or that it has been so long, that they have lost interest?

No doubt, the die-hard NBA fan will return to watch. The key for the league’s TV ratings will be whether that casual fan who does tune in when the games have more meaning, will be viewing from his or her sofa.

One gets the impression that at first, there will be curiosity and if the eight games each teams plays before the playoffs are compelling, it could win over viewers. Some might just wait for the playoffs. Other may just sit this one out.

The Sixers have a strong fan following and they are among the more intriguing teams to watch when the season resumes. Will Ben Simmons be back to his All-Star form after being sidelined with a back injury for eight games prior leading up to the season’s suspension? Will Joel Embiid come back in shape and be ready to dominate? Can Shake Milton continue his surprising play? Will the time off help Tobias Harris, who didn’t miss any time, but was banged up?

And of course the biggest question is simple: Can the Sixers make a run at the title?

If a team wins a title in this season like no other, will the fans be just as ecstatic, especially if they have a virtual parade?

We’re about to find out, although it’s still a month and a half before the teams are ready to tip off.

Julius Erving, left, and Sixers owner Josh Harris watch a Sixers game.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Julius Erving, left, and Sixers owner Josh Harris watch a Sixers game.

Starting Five

Despite players’ concerns, expect the NBA season to resume as planned, says Pompey in his latest Sixers podcast.

“That could have been me”: Maurice Cheeks details incident with police in Players’ Tribune post as Darmichael Cole reports.

Miami's LeBron James tries to muscle past San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard during the Spurs' Game 5 clincher in the 2014 NBA Finals.
Miami's LeBron James tries to muscle past San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard during the Spurs' Game 5 clincher in the 2014 NBA Finals.

This day in NBA history

On June 15, 2014, the San Antonio Spurs clinched their fifth NBA title with a 104-87 win in Game 5 over the Miami Heat. The 4-1 series win by the Spurs was dominant and led by then-rising star Kawhi Leonard, who was the Finals MVP. Leonard earned his second Finals MVP last season in leading Toronto to the title.

Against Miami, Leonard averaged 17.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 2.0 assists per game and was frequently paired defensively against LeBron James. Leonard was highly efficient, shooting 61.2% from the field and 57.9% (11 for 19) from three-point range.

Last year when Leonard won his second Finals MVP in a six-game series win over Golden State, he averaged 28.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 4.0 assists.

As Sixers fans know all too well, last year Leonard was most dominant in Toronto’s seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal win over the Sixers. In that series he averaged 34.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 4.0 assists.

We also know he hit the Game 7 buzzer-beating game-winner, which will rank as one of the more painful experiences in Sixers playoff history.

The 1967 Sixers celebrate their Eastern Conference title after beating the Boston Celtics. They went on to win the NBA title that year.
AP
The 1967 Sixers celebrate their Eastern Conference title after beating the Boston Celtics. They went on to win the NBA title that year.

Quick flashback

During this pandemic, we presented you with our 12 most memorable 76ers playoff games. We hope you enjoyed the series and if you missed any, email me (mnarducci@inquirer.com) and I will make sure you get the links.

One question will always remain - which team was better, the 1967 Sixers or the 1983 Sixers? The two are similar in many ways. When I asked Billy Cunningham, the sixth man on the ’67 team and coach of the ’83 squad, he didn’t want to pick one over the other. Any thoughts on which one is better? Let us know.

Passing the Rock

Question: I am still worried about chemistry, can you put my fears to rest? - James Lang from Facebook.

Answer: Thanks for the question James. I’m sorry, but I can’t put your fears totally to rest. The Al Horford and Joel Embiid pairing hasn’t worked to date. It will be interesting if Horford is even in the starting lineup when the Sixers return or if Shake Milton is a starter and Tobias Harris moves to the power forward spot. Even if Horford and Embiid are starting, nothing to date has shown us that they can work together effectively, especially since both are most effective down in the blocks. In addition, Ben Simmons, who missed the final eight games with a pinched nerve in his lower back, will have to get back into the rhythm with his teammates. Keep in mind he hasn’t played a full NBA game since Feb. 11. Teams no doubt will play off the ball more on Simmons and likely won’t allow Milton the open shots he was getting when Simmons was out of the lineup. Milton will have to work more off the ball, which he is currently capable of. The Sixers have the pieces to work, but don’t expect the chemistry issues to be gone right away. They are probably happy that there will be eight games played before the playoffs to work everything out.