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How Have the Philadelphia 76ers Fared in the Playoffs as the Top Seed?

ben simmons sixers

ben simmons sixers

On Friday, the Sixers beat the Orlando Magic to clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference of the 2020-21 NBA Playoffs.

It’s the first time in 20 years that Philadelphia has earned the top seed in the Playoffs. The Process is nearly complete.

Results of the play-in tournament will determine who their first round opponent – the #8 seed – will be.

The Sixers are one of the favorites to win the NBA Championship but just being the top seed is no guarantee they’ll even get to the Finals.

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Sixers as Eastern Conference Top Seed

Here’s a look at how the Philadelphia 76ers have fared in the NBA Playoffs as the top seed.

The Sixers have been the #1 seed 7 times prior to the 2020-21 season. In those years, they’ve reached the Finals 4 times, winning 2.

1965-66: Sixers Lose to Boston in East Division Finals

In 65-66, the Sixers finished the regular season with the best team in the NBA, at 55-25. There were just 9 teams in the league at the time.

Wilt Chamberlain led the Sixers and the league in the following categories that year:

  • Points per game: 33.5
  • Rebounds per game: 24.6
  • FG percentage: 54%

Boston finished a game back of Philadelphia in the East. And in the Eastern Finals, the Celtics dispatched the top-seeded 76ers early, 4 games to 1. The highlight of the series for the Sixers was Chamberlain. In Game 3, the lone Sixers victory, he tallied 31 points and collected 27 rebounds. In a Game 5 loss, he posted 46 points and 34 boards.

1966-67: Sixers Topple Warriors for NBA Title

Arguably one of the best NBA teams of all time, the Sixers in 66-67 erased the memory of the playoff exit the year before and cruised to a league title. They defeated the San Francisco Warriors in 6 games.

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The Sixers finished the regular season with 68 wins and only 13 losses. Wilt Chamberlain was named MVP.

Along the way to the title, Philadelphia topped the Cinicinnati Royals, 3 games to 1, in the Eastern Division Semifinals and the Celtics, 4 games to 1, in the Eastern Finals.

1967-68: Sixers Stopped by Celtics in Game 7 of East Finals

Philadelphia finished the regular season a full 6 games ahead of the next closest team, the St. Louis Hawks.

After taking care of the Knicks in the East Semifinals, the Sixers found themselves up against a familiar postseason foe, the Celtics.

Up 3-1 in the series, the 76ers watched this one slip away, dropping the final 3 games of the series, including the decisive Game 7 at home.

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1976-77: Walton’s Blazers Stop Philadelphia in Finals

Bill Walton’s Portland Trail Blazers took care of the Sixers in the Finals, winning the final 4 games of the 6 game series, stopping Julius Erving and Philadelphia.

The Sixers came into the playoffs in 76-77 with the best record in the league at 50-32. They defeated the Celtics in 7 games in the East Semifinals and the Houston Rockets in 6 games in the East Finals.

1977-78: Sixers Bow Out to Bullets in East Finals

Philadelphia finished 12 games ahead of the Knicks in the Atlantic Division and had a conference-best 55-27 mark to end the regular season. Only the Trail Blazers (58-24) were better in 77-78.

After sweeping the Knicks in the East Semifinals, the Sixers came up against the Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes, and the Washington Bullets.

Julius Erving and Doug Collins led the Sixers in scoring in the East Finals.

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1982-83: Moses, Doc Lead Sixers to Sweep of Lakers for Title

The Sixers cruised to the top seed in 1982-83, posting 65 wins, 9 games better than the Celtics in the East. Moses Malone earned the MVP award.

Philadelphia eased through the playoffs on its way to the Finals. They swept the Knicks in the East Semifinals and took care of the Milwaukee Bucks in 5 games in the conference finals.

In a rematch of the previous season’s Finals, the Sixers exacted their revenge on the rival Lakers, fulfilling Moses Malone’s “Fo’ Fo’ Fo’” promise.

2000-01: AI-Led Sixers Come Up Short Against Lakers

Easily the best season of the Allen Iverson era, the Sixers were hard to beat in the 2000-01 regular season. They finished atop the Atlantic Division with a 56-26 mark. To show how much the game has changed, they averaged just 94.7 ppg in 2000-01.

The Answer was named league MVP and was top scorer at 31.1 ppg. Adding Dikembe Mutombo midway through the season solidified the team defense.

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After taking care of the Indiana Pacers in the first round, Philadelphia needed 7 games to take care of the Toronto Raptors in the East Semifinals and the Milwaukee Bucks in the East Finals.

However, AI and Mutombo were not enough to top Kobe and Shaq and the Lakers in the Finals, losing 4 games to 1.

2000-0156-26Lost NBA Finals (4-1)LA LakersLarry Brown
1982-8365-17Won NBA Championship (4-0)LA LakersBilly Cunningham
1977-7855-27Lost in East Finals (4-2)Washington BulletsBilly Cunningham
1976-7750-32Lost in NBA Finals (4-2)Portland Trail BlazersGene Shue
1967-6862-20Lost in East Finals (4-3)Boston CelticsAlex Hannum
1966-6768-13Won NBA Championship (4-2)SF WarriorsAlex Hannum
1965-6655-25 Lost in East Finals (4-1)Boston CelticsDolph Schayes

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