The Philadelphia 76ers entered the 2019-20 NBA season as one of the heavy favorites to fully dominate the Eastern Conference. For most people, that wasn’t surprising at all. Despite losing Jimmy Butler last summer, the Sixers have retained their core of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Tobias Harris, and added reliable contributors like Josh Richardson and Al Horford in free agency.
Unfortunately, since the season started, the Sixers have failed to live up to expectations from a team that was favored to represent the Eastern Conference in the 2020 NBA Finals. The Sixers may currently be in the playoff race, sitting in the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference, but they would likely be heading into the postseason without homecourt advantage. If the Sixers don’t show a major improvement with their performance on both ends of the floor and with their chemistry, Dan Favale of Bleacher Report predicts that Philadelphia would suffer a first-round elimination in the 2020 NBA Playoffs.
“Philly’s defense could still muck up an entire series, and the Sixers have beaten the Boston Celtics three times. They won’t flinch at a first-round matchup with them—or, for that matter, anyone. But they are a combined 2-5 against the Heat and Toronto Raptors and a ghastly 9-23 overall on the road. For as much as we can kind of, sort of, envision them winning the East, the Sixers’ offensive clumpiness makes it more likely they’re dispatched in the first round and faced with a mountain of awkward and difficult questions entering the offseason.”
Favale’s prediction for the Sixers undeniably has a strong chance of becoming a reality. On paper, the Sixers indeed have one of the most formidable starting lineups in the league this season. However, one of their newest acquisitions, Horford, is having a hard time making himself fit in Coach Brett Brown’s system and struggling to co-exist with Joel Embiid in their frontcourt, making the team decide to demote him to the bench.
So far, he’s only averaging 12.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 4.1 assists while shooting 44.2 percent from the field and 33.7 percent from beyond the arc. Also, Sixers’ franchise cornerstones, Embiid and Simmons, have struggled to remain healthy and missed plenty of games due to injury.
The outcome of the 2019-20 NBA season would be vital for the Sixers as it could greatly affect their plans in the summer of 2020. If they suffer a huge disappointment and fail to at least reach the Eastern Conference Finals, there is speculation that the Sixers may finally consider breaking up the star duo of Embiid and Simmons. The Sixers could also start looking for a way to get rid of Horford and his lucrative contract.