PHILADELPHIA – The idea of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid as a modern-day odd couple bunking together in a Center City condominium trash-talking during games of “FIFA 21” after playing taxing real NBA games momentarily got a rise out of 76ers fans.
Alas, Simmons was just joking when he said he moved in with Embiid -- who welcomed his first son with his girlfriend in September -- so the Philadelphia 76ers’ All-Stars could tighten their bond.
Simmons is good with Embiid, the max-contract cornerstones of a franchise that has not yet reached the championship heights so many expected when they were drafted two years apart.
As for the rest of the team, the Sixers are ready to hit the reset button in coach Doc Rivers' first season running a team that netted them just the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and a first-round exit. Former Sixers guard Josh Richardson, traded to Dallas in the offseason, lamented in August the underachieving season could be pinned on a lack of accountability from management to the roster.
Simmons said Richardson was right and the Sixers were not ready to compete for a title when the NBA restarted the season in the Disney bubble.
“We weren’t in a position to go into the bubble and win,” Simmons said. “I think our mindset was off. Accountability is a huge part of winning. I think he’s definitely right. Bringing Doc and all of these guys in, Doc’s team, with all of these coaches around, the maturity has definitely risen with the team. It’s been great to see that and see guys be accountable for certain things, and come here ready with a different mindset.”
Boston swept the 76ers in the postseason and ended former coach Brett Brown’s reign after seven seasons that put him in charge of the lose-first Process era to consecutive 50-win seasons and berths in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
So what was the problem in the bubble?