The Philadelphia 76ers saw their season end in heartbreaking fashion with a Game 7 loss to the Raptors this spring, one that literally included an unlucky bounce of the ball on a game-winner from Kawhi Leonard. Inevitably, it brought up all the old questions about whether Joel Embiid could stay healthy and whether Ben Simmons would ever develop a serviceable jump shot.
But the Raptors championship run may have actually helped their cause, namely in the sense that it now appears they were closer to a title than anyone realized at the time. While that didn’t stop Jimmy Butler from jumping ship to Miami in the offseason, they did manage to add Al Horford in free agency, not to mention re-sign Tobias Harris to a max deal.
And it’s clear Harris re-upped with the team in no small part because he believes the Sixers remain near the top of the pecking order heading into next season. He wasn’t at all shy about saying as much, especially in light of the Raptors’ losing Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers.
Via Ian Begley of SNY.tv:
“We’re for sure at the top in the East,” Harris said Thursday at the NBPA/Five-Star Camp at Basketball City. “With that being said, it’s the NBA. It’s hard to win games in the NBA. We know it’s going to take a lot of chemistry. It’s going to take work from every single guy on the team. We have big goals for ourselves, our team, our organization. We’re ready for it.”
Harris was somewhat echoing a sentiment by teammate James Ennis III, who rather bluntly believes Philly will have an easy route to the Finals.
Harris agreed to return to the Sixers on a five-year contract worth about $180 million this summer, although that turned out to be bittersweet as best friend Boban Marjanovic ended up taking a deal to join the Mavericks. Philadelphia, no doubt, is in a great position, but there’s still plenty of question marks remaining if they are to position themselves as the class of the East going forward.