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Chicago will hope to push on again
  1. NBA

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers season preview

Philadelphia 76ers head into the new season looking to end a championship drought that has lasted four decades, and with a talented roster they will feel they have a real chance of going all the way.

The Sixers won the last of their three championships in 1983 but they have been genuine contenders for a few years now.

Last season was perhaps derailed by the drama surrounding Ben Simmons and his standoff with the franchise. The arrival of James Harden as part of the trade that saw Simmons move to Brooklyn means they now have a more settled team and that should allow them to kick on after a difficult year.

WhatNBA Season 2022/23
WhereUSA and Canada
When18th October 2022 - June 2023
How to watchSky Sports, NBA Pass, bet365's Sports Live Streaming
OddsGS Warriors +600, MIL Bucks +650, BOS Celtics +700, LA Clippers +700, BKN Nets +700

Embiid has a point to prove

Joel Embiid has been Philadelphia's talisman for a number of years and last term he enjoyed perhaps his best season on a personal level at least.

The 28-year-old averaged a career-high 30.6 points-per-game and won the NBA scoring title for the first time, as well as averaging career-highs in assists (4.2) and steals (1.1) with 11.7 rebounds-per-game.

Many felt Embiid should have won the MVP award, which went to Nikola Jokic of Denver Nuggets for the second year in a row, and he is among the leading contenders for that individual honour this year.

Embiid played through injury during the playoffs and that thumb injury disrupted their postseason bid.

The Sixers ended up losing out in six games in the Eastern Conference semi-finals to Miami Heat, with Embiid missing the first two games in that series, but with a fully fit roster they should be able to challenge any team over the course of seven games.

Harden brings more star quality

Bringing in Harden for Simmons was by no means a like-for-like trade for the Sixers as the 2018 MVP brings a far greater attacking threat, while losing the defensive ability of Simmons.

Harden had a fairly subdued first half season with Philadelphia but that was perhaps understandable after joining a team in mid-season - with plenty going on behind the scenes at both his new team and former outfit Brooklyn Nets.

The 33-year-old may not be the same player he was when he won the MVP award during his time with Houston Rockets but he is still among the best shooting guards in the league.

The biggest contribution he has made to the team so far arguably came off-court - as he declined a player option and instead re-signed on two-year deal, giving the Sixers more room to manoeuvre in free agency.

Sixers recruited well in the offseason

Harden's decision to decline his player option gave Philadelphia the opportunity to bring in some quality recruits in the offseason and the arrival of forwards P.J. Tucker and Danuel House look particularly strong moves.

Montrezl Harrell, who won the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2020, should also be able to make an impact and Philadelphia now appear to have a strong core of players and a depth to their squad that they were lacking last season.

Tucker will probably be a regular starter this season and Harrell's arrival means Philly have the option of limiting Embiid's minutes when required, or even playing both and allowing the Cameroonian to play as a forward on occasion.

Embiid, Harden, Tucker, Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey looks like Philly's most likely starting five, and with House, Harrell, Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz and others providing support from the bench they should be a real force in the East.

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Rivers has done it all before

Sixers coach Doc Rivers is gearing up for his third season in the hotseat and he has led the team to the conference semi-finals in each of the last two seasons, despite having to deal with injuries and other player issues.

The 60-year-old former point guard won the championship as Boston Celtics coach in 2008 and as such knows what it takes to lead a team all the way.

How the season starts

Embiid, Harden and Tucker are all carrying minor injuries going into the new season so how Philadelphia start may not be a true reflection on what they can achieve.

The Sixers start off with a tough trip to Rivers' former team Boston before a three-game home stand against Milwaukee Bucks, San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers.

Philadelphia 76ers' 2022'23 expectations

Given the talent on their roster, the Sixers will be expecting a serious championship bid and they are rated at +1300 to win the championship and +650 to win the Eastern Conference, putting them behind Milwaukee, Boston and Brooklyn.

Embiid is +500 to win the MVP award and third-year guard Maxey is +2500 to win the Most Improved Player award.

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