76ers earn number one seed
Fans of the Philadelphia 76ers could not have asked for a better regular season following another disappointing playoff exit last year. After an early exit from the NBA bubble last summer, many were questioning whether the 76ers’ core were really good enough to compete for an NBA title.
However, after a fantastic season that saw them finish first in the competitive Eastern Conference there may never be a better chance for the 76ers to win their first championship since 1983.
“I’m happy about what we accomplished, but we have a long way to go,” 76ers’ star Joel Embiid said following Philadelphia’s win over the Orlando Magic. “Now’s the time to lock in and go get the whole thing.”
Fans of the 76ers made their feelings clear as they chanted ‘MVP’ every time Embiid touched the ball in the first half of the game. The win over the Magic officially clinched first place for the 76ers, allowing coach Doc Rivers to rest his entire starting lineup in the final game of the season against the Orlando Magic on Sunday. Despite missing Embiid, Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons, Danny Green and Seth Curry, the 76ers still pulled off an impressive 128-117 victory.
“They’re great, they’re an elite team, championship level, ton of talent,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said after Friday’s loss. “That game was important to them. The second quarter when they really turned up the defense, it was a struggle.”
Clinching top seed in the Eastern Conference is a big step in the right direction but the team still has a long way to go before they reach their goal of an NBA title. Top spot ensures they will have home court advantage throughout the postseason, but it doesn’t guarantee them success.
“I told our guys to enjoy the second,” Rivers said after the 76ers clinched. “It’s not what we want, but it’s part of what you can get on your way to what you want.”
The city of Philadelphia also provided the 76ers a playoff boost last week when they announced that the team will be allowed to have 50% capacity at Wells Fargo Center for playoff games. That means the team will have approximately 10,000 fans in attendance for postseason matches, about double what they were allowed during the regular season.
“We did it as a group, felt like everybody contributed,” Embiid said. “Great coaching staff, great front office, the group we’ve had this year has been exceptional. As good as we were in the regular season, I think we’re going to be even better in the playoffs.”
Philadelphia is still awaiting to find out who their first round opponent will be as they will play the lower seeded team from the play-in. The NBA adopted a new format last year that sees play-in games taking place between teams who finished 7th to 10th in the conference.
Regardless of which team the 76ers ultimately meet in the opening round of the playoffs though, expectations will be sky high from fans and the media alike.