The Philadelphia 76ers are one of the NBA’s most interesting teams this season. Predictions range anywhere from another first-round playoff exit to returning to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2001.
The subtractions of Josh Richardson and Al Horford were noteworthy, but so was the addition of two players — Danny Green and Seth Curry — who have shot at least 40% from three in their careers.
Too many factors to iron out, we ran an NBA 2K21 simulation on the Sixers’ 2020-21 season. The simulation casts an 82-game schedule, not this season’s revised 70-game schedule.
Here’s what our simulation on NBA 2K21 Next Generation on PlayStation 5 discovered about the 2021 Sixers.
Philly makes a statement early
Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Danny Green, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid started the opener. The Sixers beat the Bucks and Celtics during a 10-4 start through the first month of the season, putting Eastern Conference foes on notice. Embiid made a statement early against Milwaukee’s towering frontcourt in a 97-93 win, finishing with 34 points and 15 rebounds. Ben Simmons flirted with a triple-double. The 10-4 record was the second-best start in the Eastern Conference behind the Celtics.
The start was no fluke
Philly remained dominant in January, going 12-4 in the season’s second month. The Sixers jumped to the No. 1 seed in the East and No. 2 in the NBA power rankings. A statement was made when the Sixers beat the defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat twice. In a 131-116 win against the Heat, Simmons fouled out and Embiid sat out with a collapsed lung. Dwight Howard stepped up with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Tobias Harris led the way with 29 points. The Sixers held a two-game lead over the Raptors and Bucks through the first two months of the season.
Here come the injuries
The hot start continued into February, and the Sixers led the Eastern Conference by 5 1/2 games over the Celtics. But then came the injuries.
A knee tendinitis injury wiped out Simmons in early March until mid-April. Embiid suffered a right finger injury after dealing with the collapsed lung.
The Sixers limped to a 6-6 record in March and finished 13-12 in their final 25 games.
Despite limping to the finish line, the Sixers clinched the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed. Since the 2020-21 NBA season will be 70 games, it’s worth highlighting that the Sixers finished 44-26 through 70 games.
Harris was the only Sixer named to the NBA All-Star team, but Simmons and Embiid both earned post-season accolades. Embiid made the All-NBA second team and Simmons was named to the third team and first-team All-Defense.
Rookie Tyrese Maxey stepped up in Simmons’ absence and averaged more than 13 points per game, but he was robbed of making the All-Rookie NBA team.
Sixers lay dud in playoffs
Not too many Sixers fans will like the season’s ending.
Simmons was a couple weeks away from returning, so Maxey started in his place against the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic. Orlando gained home court early by winning Game 1, 107-103. The rattled Sixers never regrouped even after tying the series in Game 2. The Magic upset the Sixers in five games, 4-1.
The Brooklyn Nets swept the Magic in the next round and lost to the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA Finals.
NBA 2K21 stats projections
Sixers Team record: 51-31, 1st in Eastern Conference (44-26 through 70 games)
Joel Embiid: 29.2 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 47.8% FG, 31% 3-point
Tobias Harris: 25.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 50.2% FG, 37.6% 3-point
Ben Simmons: 21.1 points, 8.6 assists, 7.5 rebounds, 62% FG, 0.0% 3-point
Seth Curry: 14.4 points, 44.1% 3-point
Tyrese Maxey: 13.0 points, 41% FG
Shake Milton: 9.3 points, 41.7% 3-point
Mike Scott: 7.1 points
Dwight Howard: 6.9 points, 8.4 rebounds
Danny Green: 6.6 points, 41.9% 3-point