Highlander Hot Take: The Philadelphia 76ers will defeat the Nets in the Eastern Conference Finals and take down the Lakers to win the 2021 NBA Championship.

Hansel Chu, SW

With the 2021 NBA Playoffs officially underway, the road to the championship has been taken to a whole other level. This NBA season has arguably the most parity it has had in the last few seasons. With multiple teams having a legitimate chance of winning it all, the Philadelphia 76ers will emerge victorious and become the 2021 NBA Champions.

Courtesy of Mark Runyon | BasketballSchedule.net via Flickr

First of all, the 76ers have one of the most star-studded offenses in the NBA this season, led by MVP candidate, Joel Embiid. Embiid this season averaged a career high 28.5 points per game and 10.6 rebounds per game. Embiid has been nothing short of dominant against opponents this year with his unique arsenal of power and finesse. This can be seen when Embiid went down with an injury in the middle of the season and the 76ers went 10-11 without him.

However, the MVP candidate also had tremendous help from his supporting cast. Before, the 76ers had a problem with floor spacing for Embiid and point guard Ben Simmons. In the offseason, the 76ers resolved this issue by trading away Josh Richardson to the Mavericks for sharpshooter Seth Curry and signed 3-and-D player Danny Green to help space the floor. Curry and Green made immediate impacts for the 76ers as both players shot above 40% from the 3-point line. This allowed Embiid to operate freely in the midrange and in the paint, as opponents are unable to double team Embiid without giving up a three to Green or Curry. Forward Tobias Harris has also been an underrated piece to the 76ers’ success. This season, Harris averaged 19.5 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game, giving the 76ers another offensive weapon alongside Embiid.

As if the offense isn’t enough to handle, the 76ers’ defense is more dangerous than their offense. This season, the 76ers ranked 14th in offensive rating, but their defense ranked second in the NBA. This can be attributed to the Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Ben Simmons, holding down the defense for the 76ers. As a 6’11 guard, Simmons has the ability to defend all five positions on the court and disrupt the opponent’s top players with his height and length. Embiid also made a name for himself as being an elite shot blocking big man in the league, as he averaged 1.4 blocks a game as well as 1.0 steals a game.

The 76ers have lengthy and versatile defenders, such as guards Matisse Thybulle, Danny Green and Tobias Harris, that they can throw at opposing guards. Along with their top defensive rating, the 76ers also ranked fourth in opponent second chance points, which means opponents have less opportunities to score against the 76ers.

With a star-studded offense and a suffocating defense, the 76ers are going to be a force in the playoffs. The 76ers have the defensive potential to halt the nuclear offenses of the Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks. Offensively, no one in the league this season seemed to have an answer for Joel Embiid. Barring any injuries, the 76ers will ride the shoulders of their MVP candidate, Joel Embiid, and win the 2021 NBA Championship.

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