We've seen this movie before.
"Over? Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?" - John "Bluto" Blutarsky
Has a familiar ring doesn't it? Late season, team is rolling, a young MVP-candidate player that is the heart and soul of the squad gets hurt. And all hope looks lost.
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Judging from social media and the panicked texts I got from my friends after the news broke Thursday evening that Joel Embiid had fractured his orbital bone, will need surgery and did, in fact, have a concussion, the Sixers may as well just call it quits right now with eight games left in the regular season. They're cooked as JoJo would say.
O, ye of little faith.
But let's harken way back in the day. All the way to Dec. 10, 2017. Exactly 110 days ago. The Eagles entered that afternoon against the Rams at 10-2, on the verge of clinching their division. Carson Wentz had thrown for 3,296 yards, 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He blew out his knee and was done for the season. Best player gone, nice season down the drain, right?
Fast-forward nearly two months later and Jason Kelce is in a Mummers costume at the bottom of the Art Museum steps, calling out everyone from Mike Lombardi to Ben Franklin as the Eagles and the Delaware Valley celebrated the Birds' first Super Bowl title.
It turns out the Eagles were a pretty good team and one player did not do them in. As impactful as Wentz was, the players, coaches and front office were not just able to stay afloat, they backstroked and butterflied their way to history.
Is there an exact parallel to be made from the Eagles to the Sixers? Maybe not. Maybe I was just enjoying the ride of good happening in the Philadelphia sports scene. Maybe I thought we could have nice things.
But Wentz and Embiid - in terms of league and team impact - are pretty darn close. Both teams would be categorized as exceeding expectations. Most felt the Birds would be a 9-10 win team that had a shot at the playoffs. An optimistic Sixers' view was .500 to a little better and a seven- or eight-seed.
I'm not minimizing the loss of Embiid, his impact on both ends speaks for itself. Especially come playoff time. As for the regular season, the Sixers only play two playoff teams (Cleveland and Milwaukee) and the likes of Atlanta twice, Dallas, Charlotte, Detroit and Brooklyn the rest of the way. They very well can secure home-court advantage even without Embiid. The Sixers are 26-11 at home this season. Their home-court advantage at the Wells Fargo Center is real.
One more reason for optimism: Unlike Wentz, there is still a distinct chance Embiid plays in the first round given the reported timetable.
"The Sixers couldn't win without Joel Embiid." - Fake Jason Kelce.