76ers NBA Championship Odds: Can Philly Handle the Playoff Pressure?
Adam Hunger/Getty Images. Pictured: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers, James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Philadelphia 76ers NBA Playoff Odds
Philadelphia 76ers Analysis
It’s been a wild season for the Philadelphia 76ers.
The drama started before the season when it was apparent Ben Simmons would sit out and request a trade, but nonetheless, Joel Embiid stayed healthy and put together an incredible MVP-caliber season to lift them into the three seed. Tyrese Maxey took a huge leap in his second season and established himself as a key part of this franchise moving forward.
They flipped Simmons, Seth Curry (who was having his best season ever for Philly) and Andre Drummond for James Harden at the deadline, which was applauded at the time, but now it looks like Harden doesn’t have the same burst as in previous seasons due to a hamstring injury.
The question for the 76ers is how far can Embiid take this team in the playoffs with Harden playing at less than 100%, Matisse Thybulle missing first round round games in Toronto (due to vaccination status) and potential coaching disadvantages in at least the first and second rounds against Nick Nurse and Eric Spoelstra (assuming the Nets win against the Cavaliers and take the seventh seed).
The Raptors have always played Embiid tough with their length and athleticism and Nurse scheming up ways to get the ball out of Embiid’s hands. The 76ers will also need players to step up on the wing and make open shots and punch above their weight class defensively against the Pterodactyl-like Raptor wings.