The NBA playoffs are back, and the Philadelphia 76ers return to the dance. Finishing the regular season as the third seed in the Eastern Conference with a record of 54-28, 76ers fans know the road to the finals won’t be easy.
The number two seed Boston Celtics, finished their regular season with a 57-25 record, and number one seed Milwaukee Bucks finished at 58-24.
Since the 2018-19 season, the 76ers have made the second round three times but haven’t made it out. There’s hope this could be the year the team finally makes it past the second round again and advances to conference finals.
Senior digital communication and social media major and die-hard 76ers fan Zach Anglestein said, “Expectations are always the finals. I mean, the Sixers, like, the last few years they’ve had a decent team but they never had a bench. This year they have a couple good bench pieces and it all depends on a few key players.”
Anglestein believes those key players and concerns vital to a playoff run are guard James Harden and his health, forward PJ Tucker and his defense, and forward Tobias Harris being an all-around player on scoring and defense.
Anglestein expects center Joel Embiid or guard Tyrese Maxey to show up in the playoffs.
“I know Joel Embiid wants a championship; he’s been playing at an MVP caliber all year. And Tyrese Maxey, most recently he’s been playing really well: scoring, driving. If we get those two going, we have a shot against Milwaukee or Boston,” Anglestein said.
During the regular season, Boston went 3-1 against the 76ers, while Milwaukee split the regular season series against the 76ers, 2-2.
Anglestein said how different matchups in the playoffs will change his expectations for the 76ers, “They’re different on each level like I’m not worried about Brooklyn in the first round, I mean they’re a solid team after what they went through with KD and Kyrie, but they’re still a young, solid team. I’m not too worried about them, but once it’s Boston, they really have to have a game plan, Doc Rivers needs to have a game plan.”
Challenges in the way of the 76ers making a deep playoff run, Anglestein thinks Harden may be one considering his inconsistency in the playoffs throughout his career. Another challenge Anglestein recognized was Embiid staying healthy due to his injury history throughout his career.
76ers fan Zach Smith gave his expectations for the 76ers’ bench in the playoffs, “I think the bench needs to show up huge, you know, Harden and Embiid being slower guys and you know kind of bigger guys, they will have to come out a little bit. So, you know, these guys are going to have to show up … Georges Niang, he’s someone I’m always excited to see out there.”
Smith believes coaching is going to be a huge factor in the playoffs.
“It’s a huge factor in these playoffs cause you got a lot of young guys on the team and you make them work well together,” Smith said.
The Philadelphia 76ers begin their playoff run on Saturday, April 15, at 1 p.m. They will play the sixth seed Brooklyn Nets in game one of their quarterfinals matchup at the Wells Fargo Center. The game will air on ESPN.