The 76ers aspire to much more than a round advance

Elton Brand was brought to Philadelphia in September 2015 for one reason: to give the young players of the 76ers some guidance. The Sixers were in a tailspin, losing games at a record NBA pace and management was concerned that it could be causing lasting damage to young players who had high expectations for the future. But in early April, Brand had seen Philadelphia win only nine games. If they did not get another victory in the last five games of the season, the team would tie the 1972-73 Sixers with the worst record in NBA history. It was time for a strong affection. Brand made a huge poster that said: "Congratulations for tying the record for the worst team in NBA history" with the number of all the players on the roster. He hung it in the locker room before the team's game against the New Orleans Pelicans on April 4, 2016.

"Degrading, sure," said Sixers guard TJ McConnell. "Honestly, I was angry," Sixers center Joel Embiid said. "But I was hurt and I could not do anything about it, so I thought, 'When I get back, something has to change.'" The Sixers came out and beat the Pelicans that night to win their tenth game of the season and avoid the ignominious distinction of equaling the NBA's futility record. But Brand's point in making the poster was much bigger than that. This group could be something special some day, but only if you started to set your expectations much, much higher. "To believe it was only two years ago? It's crazy how far we've come since then," Embiid told ESPN after the Sixers beat the Miami Heat 104-93 to close their playoff series in the first round. by 4-1. What changed since that terrible season of 10 wins? "Simply set high expectations," said Embiid. "If I go out and put it on the net, we'll get to the playoffs and my teammates will see it, that's my way of being a leader, I'm not going to go out and say we're going to go to the playoffs and not be there for my teammates. "If my teammates know that Joel came out and said we have to get to the playoffs, then we really have to get to the playoffs."Get the best possible odds with our premium 1x2 picks.

Recently, Embiid has been saying much more that the Sixers are coming to the playoffs. On the eve of Game 5, he said that the Sixers' time was now, that they need to take this opportunity and start thinking of themselves as a team of NBA Finals. He's been suggesting that for a while now, posting photos of the potential road from the Sixers to the Finals on Instagram and mentioning it in several interviews. But there was always a smile or a wink as he said it. Could Philadelphia get that far, so soon, after a season of 10 wins? While he was sitting in his locker with Philadelphia basketball legend Sonny Hill on Tuesday night, he was not kidding.

"We have an opportunity," Embiid said. "We have a good opportunity." After the way Philadelphia resisted the storm that Miami launched in this series, it's hard to disagree with him. After the Sixers hit a franchise record of 18 triples with 64 percent shooting in Game 1, the Heat changed their defense to take the outside shot as best they could. In Game 2, the Sixers scored only 7 of 36 from behind the goal. In Game 4, they hit 7 out of 31. In Game 5, Philadelphia made just 7 of 25.

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