Typically, former NBA players tend to show bias towards their former teams. Philadelphia 76ers legend Charles Barkley isn't necessarily one of them. Barkley, who is one of the more outspoken former players today, doesn't really play favorites when it comes to organizations he has played for -- especially the Sixers.
On Monday, however, Barkley made a bold claim regarding the 76ers. On ESPN's 'Get Up,' Barkley was asked to reveal his two sleeper teams for this year's NBA Playoffs. For the Western Conference, Barkley chose the Portland Trail Blazers. For the East, Barkley's looking at the Philadelphia 76ers to shock the Conference, potentially.
"Are you saying those two teams can win a championship, or are you just saying those two teams are sleepers?" Barkley was asked. "Those two teams can win the championship," the NBA legend responded confidently.
Before the NBA went on lockdown a few months ago, the Sixers were ranked as the sixth-seed in the Eastern Conference. At the time, they had yet to clinch a playoff berth. With only eight games remaining on the regular-season schedule, however, the Sixers have clinched a spot in the playoffs officially.
With eight games left, the Sixers have the opportunity to improve their rank in the East. That still doesn't take away from the fact that Philly was one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA this season, though. Granted, it took a while for Philly to find the correct fit for their Al Horford-less starting lineup. Plus, injuries made it hard for the Sixers to have all of their key pieces on the floor at once consistently.
But once the season resumes, the Sixers are expected to have a healthy roster, which includes their two-time All-Star, Ben Simmons. While the Sixers will remain one of the NBA's most mysterious teams playing on a neutral court without fans, considering them to be a sleeper isn't too far fetched. The Sixers are a very talented team. As long as their key players remain healthy, Philly could do some damage in this year's postseason.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_