It’s still early, but the 76ers’ chemistry issues of the past appear to be gone.
Through seven games, there seems to be a buy-in and support for one another that wasn’t always present in recent seasons.
This season’s team appears to be a close-knit group with a Sixers-against-the-world mentality.
“You can definitely tell it, too, just in the vibes that everybody has going when you see one another,” Shake Milton said following Wednesday’s shootaround for that night’s game against the Washington Wizards at Wells Fargo Center.
“You can just see it from the bench, whenever somebody succeeds, whether it be Joel [Embiid] or whether it be one of our younger guys get on the court finally and get some minutes or score a bucket,” Milton added. ‘You can see that enthusiasm and happiness just runs through the whole team.”
Milton noted that started off the court, where players build a habit of being engaged and locked-in.
Veteran off-season acquisitions Danny Green and Dwight Howard have a lot to do with the improved chemistry. Both players were members of last season’s NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. It was Green’s second straight NBA title and third overall. He also won it with the 2019 Toronto Raptors and 2014 San Antonio Spurs.
Green and Howard were looked upon to bring a winning culture to a Sixers squad that had accountability issues in the past. They’ve kept the team locked-in together off the court. On the court, teammates have been trying to soak up any information they can get from the duo.
Last season, players displayed bad body language and put forth little effort at times.
The Sixers often talked about what needed to be corrected after losses. But the same thing happened over and over. The players would say they didn’t know their roles, and that was evident by watching them play.
It was hard to get the players to mesh when some complained about the team’s lack of accountability, which added to the poor chemistry.
The season’s improved chemistry has helped in the Sixers having the league’s best defense. Teammates have each other’s backs in addition to having two of the league’s best defenders in Ben Simmons and Embiid.
The Sixers lead the NBA in field-goal percentage defense (41.5%), blocked shots (7.3 per game) and defensive rating (99.8). They are second in the league is scoring defense, yielding an average of 101.7 points.
“The season is still early, so we are still trying to figure things out and things aren’t always perfect,” Milton said. “But you know the better habit that we build during practice and during the game definitely carries over.
“Then you know guys really start to buy-in, it becomes hard to go against.”