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NBA Playoffs: How far can Philadelphia 76ers go this postseason?

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392   //    13 Apr 2018, 00:13 IST

Joel Embiid & Ben Simmons
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons

At long last, “The Process” at Philadelphia seems to be bearing fruits of success. The Philadelphia 76ers have finally ended their 5-year playoffs drought and are entering the postseason with a lot of momentum on their side. The 76ers are arguably the hottest team in the league at the moment having ended the regular season with sixteen consecutive wins.

The win streak has seen the franchise end the season with a (52-30) record and earn the third spot in the Eastern Conference much to the surprise of many pundits. The extent of their improvement can be fathomed by the fact that prior to this campaign; Philadelphia had only won 56 games in total in the last three regular seasons.

As the Wells Fargo Center gets ready to welcome postseason basketball once again, the excitement around the Sixers is at its peak and there is a lot of interest to see how far Joel Embiid & Company would progress in this year’s playoffs.

It doesn’t take rocket science to realize that Philly’s postseason chances are mostly on the shoulders of their two superstars, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The duo have been absolutely magnificent this season and have often carried the team on their backs and took them past the finish line.

While Joel Embiid has averaged a double-double this year, Ben Simmons has set the court alight in his rookie season and is almost a certainty to run away with the Rookie of the Year award.

The Aussie has piled up a staggering 12 triple-doubles this season and has done it all for his team averaging an amazing 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 8.2 assists this season. Their starting frontcourt of Robert Covington and Dario Saric have been solid this season and are expected to carry on the form into the postseason.

Ben Simmons has put up record breaking numbers in his rookie season
Ben Simmons has put up record-breaking numbers in his rookie season

In terms of the roster, the concern lies with the second unit. The likes of Amir Johnson and T.J. McConnell would need to step up their game in the playoffs and try and get a little more load off their star-duo if the Sixers hope to prolong their postseason.

Another major concern that might come back to haunt Philly is the lack of playoffs experience in their squad. JJ Redick and Marco Belinelli are the only two Sixers who have experienced playoff basketball before.

Philadelphia seems to have got the easier side of the draw in the early rounds of the playoffs avoiding the likes of Raptors or Cavs in the first round. Brett Brown’s men will kick off their postseason against Hassan Whiteside and the Miami Heat.

The two teams split the regular season series 2-2, but with the kind of form the Sixers are in at the moment, they should be able to brush Miami’s challenge aside and progress.

The 76ers will face Miami Heat in the first round of the Playoffs
The 76ers will face Miami Heat in the first round of the Playoffs

In that case, they are likely to be pitted against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Celtics have beaten the Sixers on three out of the four occasions in the regular season with Kyrie Irving averaging 25.7 points and 4.7 assists in the victories.

With Irving out for the rest of the season due to injury, the Celtics who are already without their star forward Gordon Hayward, look a far more beatable side.

The Cavaliers or Raptors are likely to be one of the finalists in the Eastern Conference Finals and in all honesty that would probably be a hurdle too big for this Sixers team to overcome at the moment.

But if Embiid can be healthy and the second unit steps up to the plate, there is no reason why the Wells Fargo Center cannot see an Eastern Conference Finals game come May.

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