The Philadelphia 76ers? In the NBA Finals? Against the Golden State Warriors? In a winner-take-all Game 7?
Joel Embiid will take it.
Actually, strike that: He’s already predicted it.
ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne released an interesting profile on the Sixers’ big man, and while the entire piece is worth your time, a sentiment near the beginning is making its way around the NBA sphere:
We’ve been in a car together for about 30 minutes, driving from San Francisco to Sacramento, where the 76ers’ irrepressible young star will meet his teammates for a game the next night. Already Embiid has made predictions about Game of Thrones, this year’s NBA Finals– “[The Warriors] will be ready to go seven games with the Sixers in June!”– and how his own ride on the fame cycle might turn.
Write this off as tongue-in-cheek at your own risk.
Embiid is definitely trolling everyone on some level. That’s what he does. But he’s also a byproduct of his confidence. He believed the Sixers could make a playoff push before his season ended after just 31 appearances last year. There should be no doubt in your mind that he thinks the Sixers have what it takes to come out of the Eastern Conference.
They don’t, of course. The Sixers are slaughtering opponents by 10 points per 100 possessions whenever Embiid shares the court with Robert Covington, J.J. Redick and Ben Simmons, according to NBA.com. It’s always a good sign when your best players are faring well together. The Sixers even have some nifty talent coming off the bench, and the front office believes in this product enough to have made a win-now move with the acquisition of Trevor Booker.
But, again, the Sixers don’t have what it takes to knock off the Cleveland Cavaliers—or even the Boston Celtics or Toronto Raptors—over the course of a seven-game series. Not yet. Maybe one day. Perhaps one day soon, even. But inexperience doesn’t win championships or conference titles. as transcendent as Embiid and Simmons already are, they’re neither seasoned nor polished enough to sniff the NBA Finals now.
Though, to be fair, no team outside Cleveland really is.