C.J. McCollum doesn’t get to do whatever he wants; he posts his 20-whatever in the negative space Dame Lillard leaves in his wake. It’s a peculiar rhythm you have to strike, not being The Guy but playing as if you were, however intermittently.
As hard as this summer has been on his shaken teammate, Joel Embiid has surely been struggling too. Struggling to keep his thoughts to himself, to put in the work knowing that his fate will be decided by forces beyond his own commitment. It’s an existential bother, a fittingly big mannish problem.
As the NBA transitions to a new era, a Lakers-Nets Finals could function as the capstone to a certain era of stars; one last hurrah for everyone old enough to remember when David Stern was still their commissioner. This would be a Super Bowl of sorts- a collision of legacies too rich to miss, too hyped-up to possibly escape.
The Sixers have succeeded because they moved counter to the NBA’s prevailing trends. Whereas other teams focused on optimizing their offense until it reached some analytically divined flow state, Philly yucked their opponents’ yum.