For the first time in a long time, the NBA’s Eastern Conference is set to be extremely competitive and if the Sixers plan on making it past the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 22 years, they will need to play much better than they did just a season ago.

Last year started off on the wrong foot with the Ben Simmons saga and the Sixers never really got it together even after acquiring James Harden in exchange for the disgruntled Simmons. The only thing that bailed them out was the difficulty of the schedule being extremely easy, but that will not be the case this upcoming season.

As it stands now, there are nine playoff-caliber teams vying for eight spots.

Philadelphia 76ers
Milwaukee Bucks
Boston Celtics
Miami Heat
Brooklyn Nets
Cleveland Cavaliers
Chicago Bulls
Toronto Raptors
Atlanta Hawks

After all the activity this offseason the Eastern Conference looks to be much more competitive than in years past which will make for some fun basketball down the stretch.

Even though the Sixers are not in the bottom half of the teams listed above, they are not necessarily on the level of the Bucks or the Celtics and we all know what the Nets can be if they reach their potential. There are going to be very few games where the Sixers can afford to take the night off this year.

The team should be up to the task though as they’ve added some grit this offseason in the form of PJ Tucker, Montrezl Harrell, and DeAnthony Melton. Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey will have had an entire offseason together so the team should be much better than they were walking off the court after losing to Miami in last year’s semifinals but if they can compete with the top half of a loaded Eastern Conference will remain to be seen. One thing is for sure, for the Sixers to make a run this season they will need to play much better basketball on a consistent basis.

Photo via USA TODAY Sports, Nathan Ray Seebeck

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