This is what it came down to; after another 50 win season, the Sixers were once again eliminated from the playoffs in the second round. Only this time it felt different. The expectations were higher, the games held a deeper meaning and the stakes were greater.
The team fought until the bitter end of a 7 game series. It came down to the final shot with only 4 seconds left on the clock and well you know the rest. It was the revenge of the double doink game from the NFL playoffs. The ghost of Cody Parkey came to serve Philly a heartbreaking loss.
Both teams struggled all throughout this game. It was nothing like the other games. Both clubs were desperately inconsistent from the field. The 76ers shot for 43% from the field and 33% from 3 point range while the Raptors shot for 38% and 23% from the arc. It was a game of inches, there was no way to tell who had the clear advantage.
In the final few possessions, the team looked lost as if they had no clue what to do which ended in back to back shot clock violations. Back-to-back shot clock violation in crunch time is unheard of from a championship caliber team. It was the little things throughout this game that really cost the season for the Sixers. It was mental errors, floor spacing, lack of unpredictability and still, all it took was a lucky bounce to knock Philly out of contention.
So where does that leave the team now? Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris are set to be very sought after free agents. Although both are eligible for max extensions with Sixers, one has to wonder if Elton Brand and the higher-ups are ready to move on from The Process and into contention.
I’d have to think, knowing how competitive Jimmy Butler is, if he’s willing to walk away from this team to go form a big three or four of his own. I mean he has all he needs right here. A city that embodies who he is, a team with two franchise cornerstones and an instant shot at a title. As for Tobias Harris, he mentioned if the team showed their loyalty then he’d be more than willing to stay in Philadelphia. If they both sign the max, I’d have to wonder what would happen with JJ??
On another note, there’s one thing that has to come to end. The Ben Simmons trade talks need to be put to rest. Yes, I know he’s not a finished product and he did disappear a bit from the second round, BUT who honestly would you trade him for? He’s only 22 years old and was the best prospect out of his respected draft class. Would you have really preferred Jaylen Brown or Brandon Ingram? If your answer is yes then you’re not really assessing the players.
Both Brown and Ingram are unfinished products as well. Plus, Ben has accomplished more than both of them already.
What I’m trying to say is though The Process is complete, Simmons is not and that’s great news for Sixers fans. If, and I do say IF, Ben is able to expand his game this offseason. Whether it’s finding his shot or otherwise. Then the team’s future is on the right track, so there’s nothing to worry about.
All will be well Philadelphia, if Elton Brand is able to keep this core together then they’ll be able to contend for years to come. If not, then at least they have two building blocks that the team can surround with top tier talent. Honestly, I don’t believe it would have mattered if the Sixers won today, Philly just became a top free agent destination because of the talent and passion that lives in the Wells Fargo Center now. The Process is complete, now it’s time to compete with the best of them.
Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports