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A pessimistic preview of the Sixers’ season

I’m tired.

2021 NBA Playoffs - Atlanta Hawks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

There is just one day left until the Sixers’ season begins. As Liberty Ballers continues to provide the best Sixers preview content around, I’m going to throw my hat in the ring. In a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde move, I’m going to give a two-part look at this upcoming season. Today, I will begin with my pessimistic view on the squad and its title hopes. If my dour disposition is too much for you, I will provide an optimistic take (as much as I can) tomorrow.

I’m tired.

I’m burning out.

I would love nothing more than for this article to be outdated by the time you read it and see that Ben Simmons is gone from this team. I can’t speak to the length of anyone’s fandom, but for someone who’s status as a fan was fortified so strongly during the post-Allen Iverson and pre-Process era, the current status of this team is bittersweet. The Sixers have one of the most talented big men of all time and an MVP runner-up in Joel Embiid. It should be pure jubilation for someone who lived through convincing myself that Evan Turner would be a superstar and attending an Andrew Bynum rally at the Constitution Center. Embiid has even superseded Iverson himself as my favorite Sixer ever and it is still, somehow, not enough to bring the Sixers to the Promised Land.

I waver on the “championship or bust” mentality. In a given season, fewer than a handful of teams can legitimately consider themselves as championship contenders. The Sixers seemed to be that way, but after the agonizing loss to the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and the failure to reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the 20th-straight season, it doesn’t feel like that was truly ever the case.

I was embarrassed. I’m still embarrassed. I haven’t recovered. The Game 5 collapse against Atlanta is the moment my brain broke when it comes to this franchise.

Yes, this team had the best record in the Eastern Conference last season (and I will certainly gas that up in tomorrow’s piece), but look at the Bucks. The Sixers don’t have that level of cohesion and Giannis Antetokounmpo has firmly established himself as a top-25 player all time already. Look at Brooklyn. Kevin Durant might be, Michael Jeffrey Jordan aside, the greatest perimeter scorer of all time. Know who’s pretty close to that billing? His teammate: James Harden (I have even less of an idea of what’s going on with Kyrie Irving than I do Simmons).

In the post-Process era, the Sixers have reached the second round of the postseason three out of four times. Two of those series losses have happened with crushing Game 7 defeats, ones that have left Sixers fans of any age and background scarred.

I want to believe. I really do. I’m getting emotional as I type this looking at how the last decade with this franchise has transpired, how volatile it’s all been and how the prime of a completely dominant big man could end up squandered. I want Sixers basketball to be fun. I deserve it. All fans deserve it! After being the top seed in the East last season and ending up with another second-round exit, the importance of the regular season continues to be minimized for me. A good Wednesday night beatdown of the Hornets is a blast, but I need postseason success. That’s all that matters.

This was more depressing than I imagined, but I’m left hoping that tomorrow’s optimistic take will carry me into the opener tomorrow.