76ers eliminated from playoffs
It was supposed to be different this year for the Philadelphia 76ers. They brought in head coach Doc Rivers and finished atop the Eastern Conference standings ensuring home court advantage throughout the playoffs. But just like in years past, they came up short once again when it mattered most.
The 76ers cruised past the Washington Wizards in the opening round of the playoffs and were expecting to do the same in the second round against the Atlanta Hawks. Despite the Hawks finishing the season in fifth place though, they came out to play against the 76ers and eliminated them in the second round of the playoffs, winning game seven 103-96. It is the first time in 50 years that Atlanta has reached the Eastern Conference finals.
“Everybody is fired up,” said Hawks’ forward John Collins following his team’s crucial victory, via ESPN. “We’ve worked all year to be in moments like this. Game 7, I feel like we all had each other’s back. We couldn’t have wanted anything else more than we did tonight. We pulled through for a victory.”
While the Hawks were able to break a 50-year drought, the 76ers must live with the fact they fell short of expectations once again in the playoffs. Last year, they were eliminated in four straight games in the opening round of the postseason by the Boston Celtics. They have not reached the Eastern Conference Finals since they lost in the NBA finals in 2001.
Philadelphia made no excuses following the game though, taking the elimination quite personally.
“I ain’t shoot well from the line this series,” said Ben Simmons said following his team’s elimination, via ESPN. “Offensively, I wasn’t there. I didn’t do enough for my teammates. There’s a lot of things that I need to work on.”
Simmons was horrendous from the foul line during the playoffs, going just 34.2% overall. He was even during the second round, hitting just 15 of his 45 attempts from the line against the Hawks.
“The first thing I’m going to do is clear my mind and get my mental right,” Simmons continued. “You got to be mentally tough. You can’t take games for granted. Especially in the playoffs. Every game matters. Every possession matters.”
Simmons’ coach was quick to defend his player following the contest though.
“I’m not going to let you say that,” Rivers said of the characterization of Simmons’ postseason struggles, via ESPN. “We lost, it sucks. I am who I am. It is what it is. It’s not easy to win. And it shows. The Nets got finished by the Bucks. It’s not easy to win. And I work.”
The 76ers have a lot of reflecting to do as they prepare for an offseason of uncertainty. While the 76ers still managed to enjoy a plethora of success during the regular season, they failed to get past the second round once again and fans will be questioning whether the team really has what it takes to win an NBA title.