It’s no secret Chuck and Shaq are particularly harsh towards big men. Both Hall of Famers played under the rim and are insisting the game has gone too far away from that. Joel Embiid is the perfect guy to prove you can still win with a dominant big man playing in the post, so every time Embiid and the Sixers don’t impose their will on the opponent, Chuck and Shaq air out some frustration. Let’s hear Chuck first.
“You know, I picked the Sixers to get to the Finals. I think they are the softest, mentally weakest team that had a bunch of talent. They are the Cleveland Browns od the NBA. They got a lot of talent, and they talk the talk. That’s it.”Charles Barkley
This is a point Chuck and Shaq have been reiterating since the beginning of the season. The Sixers are one of the most talented teams in the league, “best defensive team in NBA history” was used more than once in season predictions due to their size and length, yet they are looking at playoffs without home-court advantage. One indicator of mental toughness (or lack thereof): they are 22-2 at home, and 9-19 on the road. Not good if you won’t have home-court.
The focal point of their criticism was and is the most talented player on the team. Joel Embiid has had an up and down season. We already had a moment when Shaq criticized Embiid, challenged him to step his game up, and Embiid responded with a few dominant performances. But it didn’t last long. Shaq has now decided to use a different kind of criticism.
Several 76ers players, including Simmons and Horford, implied there are locker room issues in Philly. It may just be the team hasn’t clicked yet, or something more profound. But, time is running out for the Sixers to get their act in order. Miami made moves at the trade deadline, Oladipo is getting in basketball shape, and the top 3 teams (Bucks, Raptors, Celtics) are working on all cylinders. Anything less than a Finals appearance would mean major shakeups in Philly.