Three years ago, the Philadelphia 76ers were one unlucky bounce away from taking the eventual champions to overtime in Game 7. Kawhi Leonard's epic shot eventually led the Toronto Raptors to the next stage and ended Philly's season.
The Sixers were onto something. They were strong on both ends of the floor and featured another hardnosed star besides Joel Embiid in Jimmy Butler. They didn't re-sign him in the summer, and he walked away for free.
Philly hasn't been able to find the same chemistry ever since. And regardless of Ben Simmons' mental meltdowns, Embiid's MVP-caliber seasons, and James Harden's arrival, the outcome is always the same.
NBA News: Joel Embiid Says James Harden Isn't That Guy Anymore
Harden was a shell of himself throughout the whole season. Clearly, even the Sixers were disappointed by the player he's become now, with Embiid stating that he's just not 'that guy' anymore:
“I think obviously, I’m sure since we got him everybody expected Houston James Harden. But that’s not who he is anymore,” Embiid said after the game. “He’s more of a playmaker. I thought, yeah at times he could have been, well all of us, could have been more aggressive. All of us, whether it’s Tyrese, Tobias, or guys coming off the bench.”
Embiid Wishes Sixers Would've Kept Jimmy Butler
Butler embraced Embiid and told him how much he loved him and how proud he was of him: Embiid also looked back and affirmed that he still doesn't know how the Sixers could've let Butler go:
“I still don’t know how we let him go,” Embiid said. “Like I said, I’m happy for him. I won’t sit here and say I didn’t wish he was my teammate. Still, don’t know how we let him go. I wish I could have gone to battle with him still. But it is what it is. Just got to keep building and keep trying to reach that goal.”
The Sixers rathered keep Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris over Jimmy Butler, who's en route to his second ECF in three seasons. It's easy to talk now that it's all water under the bridge, but it's clear that they made a huge mistake.