Ben Simmons won’t allow high hopes to make him lose sight of his biggest obstacle.
The Philadelphia 76ers point guard told NBA Australia’s James McKern that beating the Boston Celtics in the playoffs and reaching the NBA Finals are his team’s primary targets for next season. The Sixers lost to the Celtics in five games last season in the Eastern Conference semifinals, then watched from afar as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat Boston in the Eastern Conference finals.
Following LeBron James’ departure from the Cavs to Los Angeles Lakers, many now believe the Celtics are top dogs in the East, with the Sixers leading the chasing pack. Simmons seems to agree with that pecking order.
“We’ve got to get past Boston, those are the guys at the top right now,” Simmons said. “Beating them, that’s our next goal. Obviously getting further than the second round and winning the Eastern Conference Finals and then moving on to the Finals.
Meanwhile Boston will welcome the returns of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward from long-term injuries.
Unless Markelle Fultz’s rebuilt shot and the continued development of the Sixers’ other young players alters the balance of power in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference, Simmons might want to brace himself for disappointment.
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