Last season, the Sixers exceeded many analysts’ expectations by not only winning 52 games and clinching the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but also winning a first-round playoff series against the Miami Heat.
Not to mention, second-year center Joel Embiid was named a starter in the NBA All-Star game and point guard Ben Simmons won the Rookie of the Year Award over the likes of Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Boston Celtics’ standout Jayson Tatum.
It was a fun and magical ride, which ultimately came to an end, thanks to the Celtics, who defeated the Sixers in the Eastern Conference semifinals in five games. It was not your typical blowout five-game playoff series as the Sixers had multiple chances throughout to take control.
However, it was just not in the cards for the Sixers, who will get multiple chances to test their mettle against the Celtics next season. The two teams are expected to be the best in the East with LeBron James now in Los Angeles and one of them could represent the conference in the NBA Finals.
Simmons was in Melbourne, Australia last week and spoke about many topics, including the Sixers’ goals for the next season.
“We’ve got to get past Boston, those are the guys at the top right now. Beating them, that’s our next goal,” Simmons said to James Kern of NBA Australia. “Obviously getting further than the second round and winning the Eastern Conference Finals and then moving on to the Finals.”
The 6-foot-10 point guard is right in his thinking. Even though the Sixers are being mentioned as one of the top teams in the East, the Celtics are the gold standard right now.
They boast a loaded roster with talented youngsters Jaylen Brown and Tatum and will be getting back a healthy Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving.
Then they still have veteran big man Al Horford, defensive-minded Marcus Smart, and backup point guard Terry Rozier. Boston has the pieces to compete and potentially win an NBA championship.
With that being said, the Sixers are not that far behind Boston. This was clear in the NBA playoffs, but also the regular season.
The Sixers played the Celtics tough in their four regular-season matchups and Simmons showed up too. He averaged 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 4.8 assists.
Outside of the team goals, Simmons also has his eyes on MVP, which is possible if the Sixers make a deep run in the NBA playoffs next season.
Last season, Simmons averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds in 33.7 minutes per game en route to winning Rookie of the Year. The former first overall pick has lofty goals for both himself and his team.