The Toronto Raptors have won their first ever NBA Championship. They’ve overcome the long and grueling road that was this year’s playoffs to come out on top. While some may put a maple-shaped asterisk next to their title because of the Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson injuries, there really shouldn’t be one.
The Raptors fought tooth and nail all season long. They beat the Orlando Magic in the first round, the 4 headed juggernaut in the Philadelphia 76ers and the East’s own Greek Freak. Then they beat what many consider the greatest dynasty to ever exist, the Golden State Warriors.
As entertaining and thrilling as these Finals have been, there’s a case to be made that the Eastern Conference Semis were just as good, if not better. The Sixers and Raptors went to a Game 7 where both franchises’ fate was determined by a few lucky bounces.
Joel Embiid was barely 70% throughout the entire series, Tobias Harris went on an unfortunately timed cold streak and the Sixers didn’t have a single big man who could manage to play sustainable defense behind Embiid. That’s no excuse for the Sixers losing the series but it does make you wonder. Had Embiid been healthy or Tobias Harris not been cold, would the Sixers be the champs?
The Raptors winning it all should give the Sixers extra motivation to “Run it Back”, a mantra that fans have already started rallying behind. Bringing back Butler and Harris should be the number one priority for the team. Retaining J.J Redick would be a cherry on top.
The roster would obviously cost a lot. With little money to bring in high-end rotation players, the Sixers will have to capitalize on their selections on draft night. Bringing in players like Carsen Edwards or Cameron Johnson, who would fill immediate needs for the team’s second unit, would be a home run. Finding a backup center for Embiid who won’t be absolutely disastrous on the defensive end should also be at the top of the to-do list this summer.
If the Sixers can bring back their core and find some cheap pieces that could contribute right away, there’s no reason to think that they can’t come out of the East. Is it a bit naive? Sure. There’s no way of knowing if the Sixers would’ve beaten the Bucks or Warriors as the Raptors did. Yet if you’re the Sixers, you’d have to think that you were one absurd buzzer-beater away from an NBA title and that running it back is your best bet at bringing another trophy to Philadelphia.