The Philadelphia 76ers, led by franchise stars Joel Embiid and James Harden, will look to lead their franchise over the hump in the 2023 NBA Playoffs. After punching their ticket to the postseason for the sixth straight season, the Sixers will look to finally advance past the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The last time Philadelphia earned a conference finals berth was during the 2000-01 postseason when Allen Iverson and Larry Brown led the team to the NBA Finals. The Sixers would go on to fall to the Los Angeles Lakers, 4-1.
76ers playoff history
Last series win: 2021-22 First Round vs. Toronto Raptors (4-2)
Last NBA title: 1966-67 vs. San Francisco Warriors (4-2)
Postseason record in last five years: 25-25
Reaching the postseason for the sixth consecutive year illustrates how talented this franchise has been recently. But a .500 record in the playoffs spotlights what has become a troubling trend; the Sixers have been unable to get over the hump that is the Eastern Conference semifinals. Despite boasting talents such as Embiid, Ben Simmons, and even Jimmy Butler, this franchise has yet to earn a conference finals berth in over a decade.
That could all change this year as the Sixers not only have a legitimate MVP candidate leading the way but also have a lockdown defense in their back pocket. Embiid is averaging a career-best 33.3 PPG alongside 10.2 RPG, and he’s paired well with James Harden, who is leading the league in assists (10.7 per game). The Sixers are also entering the postseason with the third-best scoring defense, in limiting their opponents to 110.5 PPG.
As the standings currently hold, Philadelphia should make quick work of its first-round matchup against the No. 6 Brooklyn Nets. The real challenge would come in the semifinals with a likely matchup against the No. 2 Boston Celtics. The Celtics have historically held their own against Philadelphia, and this season the Sixers are just 1-3 against Boston.
But unlike the playoffs of years past, Embiid is playing incredibly efficient basketball while Harden has embraced his role as a playmaker. With Tyrese Maxey providing another layer to their scoring offense, this could potentially be the year where Philly grinds their way back into the conference finals.