With a win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night, the Philadelphia 76ers officially clinched a spot in the playoffs. This year's playoff appearance marks the fourth-straight postseason appearance for the Sixers.
Earning a spot in the playoffs is never an easy feat for any team -- but the 76ers aren't shocked about their progress this season. With two stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons on the team, and a snubbed All-Star in Tobias Harris, the Sixers believe they have a big three that can compete with the best of them.
Plus, when you enter a championship-winning head coach in the mix along with a stellar cast of veteran leaders surrounding the young guys, the Sixers have become more than playoff contenders. They are now seen as championship contenders.
So, when the Sixers officially clinched their spot in the playoffs on Wednesday night, some of the team's standout players weren't celebrating the notable victory. Instead, they will remain focused and keep their eyes on the prize.
“Coming into this season, our goal was to win a championship, but there’s a lot of steps to get there,” Sixers center Joel Embiid said. “You got to make the playoffs and you gotta win the first round, second, conference finals, and then you get to the Finals and it’s a long road. You got to be focused on it and I think we have everything we need to make it happen. It’s all about us coming in and dominating every game.”
Embiid entered the season with a chip on his shoulder due to all of the personal snubs he experienced after last season. Knowing he's worthy of collecting personal accolades, Embiid wanted to get what he deserves this season. In order to do that, though, the big man made it clear that winning comes first -- and if his team collects the first seed, it's going to be difficult for award voters to go against him. Therefore, Embiid's work is far from finished this year.
As for 76ers veteran forward Tobias Harris, he's in a similar boat. Making it to the postseason isn't anything new to Harris. Considering he was on last year's team that got swept in the first round against the Boston Celtics, Harris is far from satisfied with simply earning a spot in the playoffs.
“That’s expected, to clinch the playoffs,” Harris said. “This is Philadelphia basketball where greatness is really something that is expected from our fans. It’s expected from us as a group, and it’s one of our goals, day in and day out so we understand that. We’re not a team in the locker room celebrating for clinching the playoffs right now. We want to celebrate when we’re able to win, and win big, in the postseason. That’s our goal.”