Geltzeiler: 76ers Have "Puncher's Chance" To Win The East

Philly is peaking at the right time, Brian Geltzeiler says, and the competition in the East is, well, not great

April 25, 2018 - 8:24 am

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The Philadelphia 76ers beat the Miami Heat, 104-91, to take Game 5 of their first-round playoff series Tuesday and advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Joel Embiid finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Ben Simmons had 14 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. 

Not bad for a team that went 10-72 two seasons ago.

“I am so incredibly impressed with what’s happened with them,” NBA Radio & analyst Brian Geltzeiler said on Ferrall on the Bench. “Obviously Joel Embiid is a transcendent type of guy, but Simmons is a guy that I watch him with my mouth gaping wide open – because not only is he offensively such a terrific player, but he is so good defensively both on and off the ball. He is a brilliant defensive player. He’s got guys scouted. He knows who to leave open, he knows who to run to on the perimeter, he’ll shelter somebody on the perimeter – he will blanket you – and he’s long and he’s big and he’s quick. And you look at the pieces they put around him.”

Like JJ Redick, who scored a game-high 27 points Tuesday. Or Marco Belinelli, who chipped in with 11 off the bench.

“Give Sam Hinkie credit,” Geltzeiler said. “It was a crazy plan, but it worked. His whole idea was to get as many lottery picks as possible and find two or three transcendent players to hold on to. Well, he found two. You’ve got to give Bryan Colangelo a ton of credit with some of the guys he’s been able to bring in.”

Philadelphia will play the winner of Boston/Milwaukee in the second round. The Celtics lead that series 3-2, with Game 6 slated for Thursday in Milwaukee.

The 76ers could beat Boston and, potentially, whichever team advances to the Eastern Conference Finals.

“Right now in the East, Toronto won 59 games – and for being all that unselfish, they went back to old Toronto basketball when things got rough in Washington the other night,” Geltzeiler said. “You can’t have a ton of faith. The Cavs’ defense has been a little better in the playoffs, but the Cavs are an unadulterated mess. I don’t know how far LeBron can carry them. I really don’t. So you look at all these situations. Philly is peaking at the right time, and they got a puncher’s chance to come out of the conference.”