The Philadelphia 76ers were in the mix to win the Eastern Conference last season, and this upcoming season they are considered one of the favorites to win the conference.
NBA on TNT analyst Charles Barkley gave his thoughts on the Sixers’ title chances Monday on NBA TV, guaranteeing that Philly would win the East.
“I’m going out on a limb right now,” Barkley said. “I’m going to ride or die with the Philadelphia 76ers. It’s going to be a great battle between them and the Milwaukee Bucks all year.”
Barkley added that he likes the Sixers’ offseason additions of Al Horford and Josh Richardson. He also said he thinks former Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon joining the Indiana Pacers in a sign-and-trade will affect Milwaukee. Brogdon did play a key role for the Bucks last season as one of their best shooters; he shot a career-high 42.6% from the three-point line.
The Bucks lost 4-2 in Eastern Conference Finals last season against the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors won the title, but with Kawhi Leonard joining the Los Angeles Clippers, the East’s top two teams will likely be the Sixers and Bucks.
The Sixers have the potential to boast one of the best defenses in the NBA. Adding Richardson gives Philly quickness and length on the perimeter. Horford brings the ability to defend down low. He can also defend the high pick-and-roll.
Joel Embiid, with his shot blocking ability, is already one of the best defenders in the league. And Simmons, with his length, offers versatility on defense.
The Bucks have a top five player in Giannis Antetokounmpo, the league’s reigning MVP. While they lost Brogdon, the Bucks still have core players in Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Brook Lopez and George Hill. They also signed Kyle Korver this summer to help with shooting.
The first time fans will see the Sixers and Bucks play each other next season will be Christmas Day, with the game slated for 2:30 p.m.