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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Sixth time’s the charm?: Will the 76ers finally get past the second round in 2023?

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GRAPHIC:GABRIELLA GUZZARDO ’23/THE HAWK

With the National Basketball Association (NBA) Playoffs just 10 days away, many races around the league are coming down to the wire. As of April 3, the Philadelphia 76ers sit four games back of the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and two games behind a major division rival in the Boston Celtics for the No. 2 seed.

The 76ers play Boston one last time before the postseason starts April 15, and if they pull out a win, it could put them in great position to take the No. 2 seed.

Even if the Sixers end up as the No. 3 seed in the East, there is reason for optimism. A No. 3 seed has won each of the last two NBA championships.

Another source of optimism for Sixers fans is blatantly obvious, though, in star center Joel Embiid. Through 78 games, Embiid leads the league in points per game (33.0) and is shooting 54.9% from the field. On top of his impressive scoring stats, Embiid has been one of the league’s best on the boards as well, averaging 10.2 rebounds per game. 

Embiid is not the only Sixers star who is averaging a double-double this season. Guard James Harden leads the league in assists per game (10.9) and is scoring 21.3 points per game on top of that. Having elite presences in both the frontcourt and backcourt has proven to be vital to Philadelphia’s winning strategy.

The 76ers have several other valuable contributors on the offensive end of the floor in addition to their two star players. Guard Tyrese Maxey is scoring just over 20 points per game, and forward Tobias Harris is scoring just under 15 points per game and shooting 50.3 from the field. 

For as good as the Sixers are offensively, they are even better on the defensive end of the floor.

Philadelphia ranks third in the NBA in points allowed per game (110.6) and fourth in opponent 3-point field goal percentage (34.7%). 

Although there is plenty of reason to believe the Sixers can make a deep run in the playoffs, the ghosts of their past playoff failures loom large.

They have made the playoffs in each of the last five seasons and have been seeded fourth or better in four of them. Each season, the Sixers have failed to make it past the conference semifinals. 

It seems to be the same formula every year for the 76ers. They handily win their first round series and then lose their second round series in a gut wrenching fashion.

If the current seeding holds, Philadelphia would face the Brooklyn Nets in the opening round. If the pattern holds, they’d potentially get a second round matchup with the Celtics, who are responsible for two of their last five playoff exits.

The last time the 76ers made it past the second round of the playoffs, Allen Iverson was on top of the world as league MVP, and if Philadelphia wants to break through the second round wall that has stood in front of them since 2001, they’ll need their stars to take another step up.

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