Are the 76ers Finals Contenders?

Since the dawn of time– or at least for as long as The Process has gone on in Philadelphia, the 76ers have been in a never-ending cycle of being 1st or second-round playoff exits and never are taken seriously. They’ve been at the top of the East seeding for many years, yet always seem to fizzle out in the playoffs.

Part of the problem is consistent play–last year, we saw inconsistencies in the roleplayers, and also Embiid getting hurt significantly hurt their chances. Sixers coach Doc Rivers always tries to rest players near the end of the season when they are winning in a game in order to keep players fresh for the playoffs, but during the playoffs, the starters are playing more minutes than normal.

This means they are more likely to get hurt and also may not be as conditioned or efficient in late-game situations. I think either Doc is going to have to condition his players better with more minutes and fixed rotations during the regular season or rely on the bench a little bit more in the playoffs.

This season, with the depth the Sixers have at guard, I think using the bench more is a no-brainer. Harden, Maxey, Melton, and Milton have all been great this year, and Doc needs to rely on them to take possessions and keep Embiid fresh. I believe it is also essential that Doc sticks with the young forwards/centers to backup Embiid– both Paul Reed and Jalen McDaniels have been essential bench players in recent games, and it is important that they continue to see a role down the stretch in order for them to be hot in the playoffs.

Currently sitting at 3rd in the Eastern Conference, the Sixers are still fighting for the 1st seed and are three games out of first, which is controlled by Milwaukee with a 50-19 record as of 3/16/23.  They are on a six game win streak but have one of the hardest remaining schedules in terms of opponent win percentage.

Some of the tougher opponents they have remaining are the Bulls twice, the Warriors, Suns, Nuggets, Mavericks, Raptors, Bucks, Celtics, and Heats. I believe, however, ending with a difficult schedule is good for team confidence–if they win. Many of these teams are going to go far in the playoffs and will help the Sixers gauge the strength of their rotations. But they have to capitalize on this learning opportunity and take away as much from every game, especially the losses.

The Sixers have a very good chance to go far this year, but the East is the toughest it has been in a while, and teams like the Celtics and Bucks will present good challenges. The Sixers are getting hot at the right time, with Embiid being the MVP betting favorite and Harden playing his role to perfection, but how far do you think they will go this year? Will The Process finally pay off?