PHILADELPHIA — Here They Come.
After a regular season that saw the team lead the Eastern Conference nearly from start to finish, the Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons-led Philadelphia 76ers team was able to defeat the Washington Wizards in the first round of the playoffs.
Now, the squad is in the midst of a second round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks.
While the players are focused on the series at hand, fans are dreaming of a possible matchup against the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference Finals.
We spoke to Keith Pompey, host of the Locked On Sixers podcast and Sixers beat writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, about the team's chances for the rest of the NBA playoffs.
Here is a snippet of that conversation:
CALE AHEARN: The team was able to work its way through the Washington Wizards, just a little hiccup there. I think the biggest scare for everyone in that series was the Joel Embiid injury.
Coming into the series with the Hawks, you don't really know what to think until he suits up in Game One and Game Two, and he drops 79 points!
Are you surprised at the way he has been able to recover from this knee injury?
KEITH POMPEY: Let me tell you this.
If I did not see Joel before Game Five, the closeout game against Washington, cause he did a workout... If I did not see Joel doing that workout, I would be shocked. I mean, I'm talking about really shocked.
Now, here's the deal.
Cause Joel comes out, right? He doesn't play in that game. Everyone is writing about the torn meniscus.
He's like dribbling the ball between his legs, doing step back threes, doing fadeaways off of the bum knee, and I'm like, "Okay, is something wrong with him? Is there something really wrong with him?"
So, when you see that, and you see that he's followed that up at practice and doing all those other things, so, then you realize, like nah, it's nothing that is going to stop this guy right now. It's nothing that is going to stop him.
I guess he's fortunate that it wasn't worse, but, you know, I'm not surprised man because Joel is a dominant force.
If you had witnessed that workout, you would've been like, "well how come Joel is not playing in Game Five?"
That's how good he looked.
CA: Game One, we saw the Sixers get down early to the Hawks. Really, it was pretty much being forced to play catch up the entire time before almost catching them at the end.
Game Two saw the team a little bit more in control.
After seeing the first two games, which game do you think is more symptomatic of what we're going to see throughout the rest of the series?
KP: I think Game Two.
Leaning more towards Game Two.
Although, I think it's a little bit in between because if you've noticed, as good as the Sixers are, they have had lapses. They have had, like, letdown games, right?
So, I think that with the Sixers, sometimes the Sixers become their own worst enemy.
So, what they need to to do is they need to remain locked in.
I don't know if they are going to come out with the fire that they did in Game Two, but at the same time, they have to realize that we're the big bad Sixers. Bigger than everyone else.
And, if they do that, I believe that they'll be okay.
But, I'm here to tell you -- they're going to have some lapses going on, and Sixers fans are going to get a little frustrated at the team, but I still think they will win this series.
The 76ers take on the Hawks in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals tonight at 7:30 p.m.