The Philadelphia 76ers are looking like the most impressive team in the Eastern Conference early into these NBA playoffs. And the young group whose confidence seems to be growing with every game will now get an extended rest, as the Milwaukee Bucks forced a Game 7 after defeating the Boston Celtics, 97-86, on Thursday night.
Which team would the Sixers be better suited to play during the semifinals round? Well, Philadelphia dropped three out of four regular season games against the Celtics this year, but that was before Boston lost All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving for the remainder of the season and playoffs due to a surgery on his left knee. Without Irving, the Sixers’ chances to advance against Boston seem that much stronger, especially if they could contain Celtics shooting guard Jaylen Brown, who has been averaging a team-high 21.8 points per game throughout these playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Sixers split their regular season series with Milwaukee, two games apiece this year, with Bucks’ All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo averaging 25.3 points and 12.3 rebounds per game through three games.
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Whichever team that Philly draws next, the Sixers have great reason for their confidence to be growing.
Their Big Three of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and JJ Redick were quite the handful for the Heat, with Redick averaging 20 points per game and Simmons averaging a near triple-double (18.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and nine assists per game) during the five-game series, while Joel Embiid came on to post an average of 18.7 points, 10.3 boards and three blocks in three games.
Before the Sixers eliminated the Heat, Embiid said the time for the franchise to make a deep run is now.
"I think our time is now," the All Star center told ESPN on Monday. We have a special team, a lot of great guys. I don't think we need anybody else. We've just got to work with what we have. We have a special team, and I feel like we have a pretty good chance to go far."
After they eliminated the Heat, some fans are even thinking Finals.