Philadelphia Advances Past Miami:
The Process has officially paid off! The Philadelphia 76ers are moving on to the Second Round for the first time since 2012, when they defeated the Chicago Bulls. After intentionally being subpar for the better half of the last five years, the Sixers have built a legitimate team who has their eyes on contending. And they are one step closer to the coveted NBA Finals now. The 76ers beat the Miami Heat, 104-91, in Game 5 and finished off the series with a 4-1 advantage. Ben Simmons was outstanding in his first playoff series, averaging 18.2 points and nine assists per game. The 6’10-point forward has been sensational all year and is the likely Rookie of the Year.
He’s been playing like an All-Star for most of the season and has the ability to play with anyone that he’ll see in the next round. The Sixers are the second team to advance to the next round, joining the New Orleans Pelicans, who beat the Portland Trail Blazers last weekend. One of the many reasons was Joel Embiid’s impact. He missed the first two games with an ongoing injury, but averaged 18.7 points per game in the final three games – all victories – two of which came on the road. J.J. Redick, the seasoned veteran of the Sixers, scored 10+ points in all five games. He averaged 20 points per game, despite only shooting 29.7 percent from three point range.
Philadelphia will face either the Boston Celtics (two seed) or Milwaukee Bucks (seven seed) in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Celtics currently have a 3-2 lead in the series, heading back to Milwaukee. The Sixers struggled against Boston, only winning one of the three games against their division rival. They had better luck against Milwaukee, splitting the series two games apiece. Philly finished their regular season with a 130-95 victory over the Bucks, which was spearheaded by 25 points from Justin Anderson and 10 assists from former No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz. According to Odds Shark, Philadelphia has the fourth best odds to win the world championship.
Photo Credit: Slate.