The Philadelphia 76ers have been eliminated from the NBA Playoffs. They were unable to defeat the Boston Celtics and would go on to lose the series 4-1. Since their season is over, let’s go back and take a closer look at what this season delivered.
As we say goodbye to the 76ers, let’s take a closer look at what their season looked like. Through the highs and lows, this was a magical breakthrough season that the city of Philadelphia will remember for years to come.
To start, let’s focus on the development of the two best players on the team. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid were able to prove that they have what it takes to be great. Because of their great play, these two led their team to the third seed in the East and post a 50 win season. The first time the 76ers have had a 50 win season since the 2000-2001 NBA season.
Heading into this season, it was unknown how well Simmons would play since we have yet to see him step foot on the floor due to injury. He bounced back with a vengeance playing in 81 games, averaging 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists in 33.7 minutes per game. He was also able to carry these numbers into the playoffs where he averaged 16.1 points, 9.6 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game.
Simmons’ partner in crime was also able to make his presence known this season. Embiid posted 22.9 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game this season. He also managed to stay healthy and play in 63 games averaging 30.3 minutes per game. These numbers were able to secure Embiid a spot on the 2018 NBA All-Star team for the first time in his career.
Enough about these two, let’s get into the team. Heading into this season, expectations were up and down depending on who you talked to. Mostly because we haven’t seen Simmons play, could Embiid stay healthy and will they be able to mesh. Well, the answer to that question was shown. And the answer is yes.
Most NBA fans have heard the phrase “Trust the Process” at this point. With the addition of J.J. Redick over the offseason, signing Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova and other players like Robert Covington and T.J. McConnell, the process became a reality. And it was beautiful to watch.
As mentioned earlier, the 76ers were able to finish the season with a record of 52-30. They posted a home record of 30-11 and a road record of 22-19. Oh, and they also finished the regular season on a 16-game win streak. This helped them secure the third seed in the East edging out LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The regular season was impressive to watch for the 76ers, but the playoffs ended much sooner than they hoped.
Their first-round matchup was against the Miami Heat who proved they still have what it takes to play at a high level. After a blowout win in Game 1, this series looked to be over before the Heat even had a chance to compete. They were able to steal Game 2, but that would be all they could do as Joel Embiid made his return from a facial injury and they went on to lose the series 4-1.
The 76ers were heading into the second round full of momentum. They were matched up with the second-seeded Boston Celtics who were without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Many thought that the 76ers would be able to dominate this series because of the injuries on the Celtics. This was not the case at all.
They found themselves down 3-0 in the series quickly and even though they picked up a win in Game 4, it was not enough. The Celtics went on to win a nailbiter of a game in Game 5 to secure the series and move on.
Heading into this offseason, the 76ers don’t have much to do. They need to keep their roster, make sure that everyone is on the same page and get them ready to come back even stronger next season. “The Process” seemed to be a joke at first, but after we saw the final product, it’s hard to deny the fact that this team has the tools needed to compete at a high level. They still have Markelle Fultz to develop and Embiid and Simmons are only going to continue to improve. Just like the rest of the team.
But Could Philly do something dramatic like add a superstar in Paul George, Kawhi Leonard or even LeBron James? Well only time will tell and of course, anything is possible. Bryan Colangelo could jump the line and trade some of the prospects and picks former general manager Sam Hinkie gathered in his time with the team. But either way, their foundation is in place that no matter what they do, they should continue to turn heads.
It is time for the 76ers to get back to the drawing board and get ready for next season. Don’t be surprised if they are competing for the top seeds in the East for many years to come.