Most 76ers fans will agree that this season was a treat not many were expecting.
Most people, myself included, predicted 40 wins this season, and a chance at a 7th or 8th seed.
I believed before the season started, that 40 wins and a playoff appearance would be a big step in the right direction for the 76ers. It’s important to remember that perspective because it quickly changed.
Philadelphia’s process began to seem ahead of schedule.
The 76ers won 52 games in their 2017-2018 regular season campaign. They earned the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, Ben Simmons became the odds-on favorite for Rookie of the Year and Joel Embiid played the most minutes he’s ever played in a season.
After a somewhat mediocre first half of the year, the Sixers began winning, a lot. They went on to close out the regular season with 16 consecutive wins.
The Sixers were a team that quickly became a threat to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East. Many in the national media began changing their expectations for the 76ers in the postseason.
Even known Process Hater Stephen A. Smith changed his Finals prediction to have the 76ers playing the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
Oh, how quickly the media can change their minds.
When the Sixers easily dealt with the Miami Heat in five games, the city of Philadelphia and the 76ers got too cocky. They had won their first playoff series since 2013, and the young stars looked like veterans.
Then Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics came knocking, and they were more than ready to challenge the new kids on the block.
Philly getting embarrassed by the Boston Celtics in five games was the best thing that could have happened to this young team.
When a young team is building towards title contention, they must be humbled to realize their own shortcomings.
The real process in Philadelphia began this year. This season was an overwhelming success for the Sixers; they absolutely exceeded expectations.
Young teams, for the most part, struggle to win big games. The 76ers’ playoff inexperience was on full display against a banged up Boston team. They made mistakes, they missed opportunities, and Brett Brown was outcoached by Stevens. Like Simmons and Embiid, Brown lacked prior playoff experience as the head man.
The Sixers got beat in all phases: offense, defense, coaching, and preparation.
A young team that was surrounded by an unbelievable amount of hype, didn’t live up to it. The loss to the Celtics suddenly made fans feel this team did not live up to expectations.
Let’s think about this for a second.
Embiid is going into his first healthy offseason and Philly won 52 games. They earned the third seed in the Eastern Conference. They dismissed the Miami Heat in five games.
The 2017-18 season was a massive success for the 76ers; the last five games that cost them their season will teach them more about winning than all 87 other games combined.
Every great team must take their lumps to figure out their weaknesses. Embiid was embarrassingly out of shape in the playoffs. Simmons was a turnover machine, and a downright detriment to his team late in certain postseason games this year. Brown looked lost in comparison to the genius of Stevens.
The 76ers got smacked, hard.
Embiid will be in better shape next season. Simmons now has a new perspective. Before the postseason, Simmons must have felt confident. He was playing better than all of his first-year peers. Now, he will be working to get those haunting mistakes of his first postseason out of his mind. Simmons will become better, because of the beating he received. The same goes for Brown.
While I usually defend Philadelphia sports fans to the death, I can’t support this wave of sudden changes in perspective. It was tough to watch a special season come to an end, but let’s face it: The Sixers “Process” is ahead of schedule.