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Why the 76ers won’t win the 2023 NBA championship

Here’s why Philadelphia won’t be able to lift the 2023 title.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 31: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts as James Harden #1 looks on against the Toronto Raptors at the Wells Fargo Center on March 31, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers defeated the Raptors 117-110. Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers ended the regular season with a 54-28 record, earning the East’s No. 3 seed and setting up a first-round matchup with the No. 6 seed Brooklyn Nets (45-37). With boasting the possible 2023 NBA Most Valuable Player on their roster, many consider this to be the 76ers’ best chance of hoisting the title in recent memory.

Over at DraftKings Sportsbook, the 76ers have the fourth-best odds to win the 2023 NBA Finals at +900. Only the Milwaukee Bucks (+265), Boston Celtics (+320), and Phoenix Suns (+425) have shorter odds.

Why the 76ers will not win the 2023 NBA title

While it has been incredible to see the MVP-caliber season that Joel Embiid is putting together (33.1 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 54.8 FG%), there remains the concern as to whether Philly is too reliant on the big man putting up spectacular numbers. Look no further than the second-to-last game of the regular season, in which Embiid dropped 52 points in 38 minutes played in order for the 76ers to walk away with a two-point win over the Celtics. Even if one minor injury pops up for Embiid, are their title hopes dead in the water?

More concerning is that the 76ers held a six-point lead going into those closing seconds, only to need a heroic performance from Embiid to survive what should have been a secure win. It speaks to the 76ers’ rough track record in clutch play during the postseason, which is another factor to be skeptical of this year. When the game gets tight in the closing minutes, Philadelphia has been hit-or-miss in executing its game plan.

Some of it may be a result of rotation decisions by head coach Doc Rivers, while others are on the players themselves, such as Ben Simmons passing up a basket under the rim in the 2021 semifinals. Regardless, their inconsistency in big moments is a ghost they’ll need to rid of in these playoffs.

Lastly, there remains the question of exactly what type of performance we’ll see from James Harden. In his first postseason run with the 76ers last year, Harden averaged a relatively quiet 18.6 PPG on 36.8% shooting from three despite having expectations of being the No. 2 scorer to Embiid. This season he’s embraced the playmaker role in leading the league in assists (10.7 per game), but the question remains as to whether the inconsistency will creep in again.