3 strengths of the Philadelphia 76ers that could be key to their success in the 2021-22 NBA season

The Philadelphia 76ers are strong contenders in the East.
The Philadelphia 76ers are strong contenders in the East.

The Philadelphia 76ers have struggled to assert any sort of dominance in the Eastern Conference. Although they finished as the top seed in the conference standings on occasion, they have failed to emerge as champions of the East during the postseason.

The last time the Philadelphia 76ers reached the NBA Finals was in 2001, where they lost to the LA Lakers in five games. Despite winning three championships in their early years, they have failed to find any success since the 1983 season.

Success, for the Philadelphia 76ers at this point would be a Conference Finals appearance. They've always been knocked out in the Conference Finals, so fans in Philly are starting to get frustrated.

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On that note, here are three strengths of the Philadelphia 76ers that could be key for them to reach the Conference Finals in the 2021-22 NBA season:

#1 The Philadelphia 76ers have an experienced coach

Doc Rivers talks with a referee
Doc Rivers talks with a referee

Doc Rivers is renowned for his teams imploding in the playoffs, which has been a significant stain on his career as a coach. Nevertheless, he is a great coach who understands the nuances of the game and puts together competitive teams.

In the regular season, Rivers has a win percentage of .585, with his best run coming with the 2007-08 Boston Celtics (66-16). The playoffs have not exactly been kind to him, but he went all the way in 2008, leading the Celtics to a 4-2 win over the LA Lakers in the Finals.

Rivers has come a long way as a coach since winning the NBA Coach of the Year award in his rookie year in 2000. Although his teams have blown multiple 3-1 series leads over the years, Rivers undoubtedly has a winning formula in the regular season, which he needs to replicate in the postseason.

The Philadelphia 76ers were favorites to reach the Conference Finals in the 2021 NBA playoffs, but lost to the young Atlanta Hawks in seven games. Ben Simmons carried most of the blame due to his poor free-throw shooting and giving up an open dunk. But the team blew a 26-point lead in Game 5 to fall behind 2-3 in the series.

Even with recent failures, Rivers has put together a team that could compete in the 2021-22 NBA season. Uncertainty still surrounds Ben Simmons, so the Philadelphia 76ers might have to play the season without their All-Star guard.

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#2 The Philadelphia 76ers have several scoring options

Seth Curry (#31) and Tobias Harris (#12) of the Philadelphia 76ers celebrates.
Seth Curry (#31) and Tobias Harris (#12) of the Philadelphia 76ers celebrates.

Most teams build around a certain player and run the offense through him, something that is also true for the Philadelphia 76ers. However, their roster is filled with elite scorers who can produce even when their franchise player is unavailable.

Joel Embiid is the go-to guy in offense for the Philadelphia 76ers, as the Cameroonian can do it all. He is deadly in the paint, but can pull up from any area of the court. Embiid ended the 2020-21 campaign averaging 37.7% on three attempts from the three-point land.

Danny Green is another exceptional shooter on the Philadelphia 76ers' roster. He has been a part of three championship teams, with his most recent run coming with the 2020 NBA champions, the LA Lakers. Green shot 40.5% from beyond the arc in his first season with the Sixers.

Meanwhile, Seth Curry and Tobias Harris are also worthy of mention, as they are significant contributors offensively. Outside of Simmons, the Philadelphia 76ers have a starting five that shoots at an effective clip from the three-point range, and can also hurt the opposition in the post.

The Philadelphia 76ers conducted good business in the offseason, bringing in Georges Niang, who is a career 40% shooter from beyond the arc. Combined with Forkan Korkmaz off the bench, the Sixers offer a legitimate shooting threat.

#3 Superior defense

Joel Embiid (#21) of the Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid (#21) of the Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers ranked second in defensive rating last season, ranking behind the LA Lakers, thanks to their gritty plays. However, a few players' contributions were more significant at the defensive end of the court.

Embiid dominated the paint with occasional help from Harris, averaging 1.4 blocks per game. His frame helps him effortlessly defend against other bigs in the low post.

Simmons and Green patrolled the perimeter for the Philadelphia 76ers, making steals and forcing turnovers. Big Ben's contribution is more worthy of note, as he was the runner-up in the 2021 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

Off the bench, Matisse Thybulle performed almost as well as Simmons, as he remained a constant presence on the perimeter. Based on how the Ben Simmons saga unfolds, Thybulle could be the replacement as the starting point guard. He already took on the role in the playoffs when Rivers had to bench Simmons, and Thybulle did an exceptional job.

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