CAMDEN, N.J.–The Philadelphia 76ers are heading into a new season looking to finally get over the hump in the Eastern Conference under new coach Nick Nurse. The Sixers have fallen in Round 2 in each of the previous three seasons.
Under Nurse, the Sixers are expected to play a much different brand of basketball than played under previous coach Doc Rivers. The Sixers will play a more free-flowing style of ball and be much more physical out on the floor.
They’re also a group that appears to like each other and want to see one another succeed. That chemistry plus playing physical is what the Sixers are looking for in terms of their identity.
“I think we’re a closer-knit group than a lot of people know we are,” said veteran guard Patrick Beverley. “Obviously, we have a bunch of new faces, but also collectively with a bunch of guys that are also there before. We really get along a lot. We’re able to police ourselves, coach ourselves, and I think on the basketball court, just physicality and aggressiveness.”
The preseason showed the physicality a bit as they were called for plenty of fouls and Beverley was even ejected from a preseason game after picking up two technical fouls. However, the Sixers were able to buckle down and get some needed stops in a lot of moments.
“In the preseason, we fouled a ton, but I’ve played on teams where we led the league in fouls and led the league in forcing turnovers, too,” Beverley added. “It plays a part in both ways. That was one thing about our identity: physicality.”
To Beverley’s point, the Sixers are going to need to be a physical bunch and play for each other under Nurse. Especially, amid all of the James Harden stuff at the moment. That identity will be crucial.
“I hope so,” laughed Nurse. “I’ve said this before, we got some physical, tough dudes who aren’t afraid to compete. When you’re a real competitor, that means you’re gonna fight hard and do whatever it takes, right? We need to make that part of our identity.”