A year ago, 76ers coach Brett Brown made news by saying at the start of training camp that his squad's goal was to make the playoffs.

That sounded like an unrealistic request considering the Sixers averaged just 18.7 wins over the previous four seasons. Yet Brown made good on his prediction. The squad won 52 games and reached the second round of the postseason.

So what's this season's goal?

"We want to play in the NBA Finals," Brown said Saturday following the team's first training camp practice. "As I said to you, we feel we could have played in the NBA Finals [last season]. I understand the magnitude of that statement, but I stand by it. And I own it."

The Sixers were ousted in five games by the Boston Celtics last season in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series. The Celtics were then beaten by the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games in the conference finals.

Boston is the favorite to win the Eastern Conference. On paper, the Toronto Raptors and Sixers are considered their closest competitors.

"It's our goal to play in an NBA Finals," Brown said. "It's a respect of championships habits. It's a respect of each other. There are a lot of pieces that clearly have to be involved for us to achieve such a high goal.

"But that's our goal."

The Sixers' last NBA Finals appearance was in 2001 when they lost in five games to the Los Angeles Lakers.  This season's squad returned 11 players from last year's team with all-star Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons being the headliners. Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala are two veteran newcomers acquired in offseason trades who are expected to have solid reserve roles.

JJ Redick isn't shying away from his coach's comment.

"I think we have two of the best players in the NBA," the shooting guard said of Embiid and Simmons. "We have a group of guys around them, skills complement them. I think we hopefully … we learned a lot in the playoffs last year."

Personal goals for Simmons

Most of the focus surrounding Ben Simmons has been the offseason work on his shot. However, his personal goal is to make the NBA All-Defensive first team.

"I think it's a respect thing," he said. "Once you get that, guys respect you a lot more. And that's what I want happening in this league."