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Joel Embiid on 76ers' NBA Title Aspirations: 'I Won't Stop Until I Win One'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMarch 30, 2022

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Winning an NBA championship with the Philadelphia 76ers is the overriding goal for star center Joel Embiid.

"I won't stop until I win one for this city," the MVP candidate said to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix.

When discussing whether this Sixers team represents his best shot at winning a title to date, however, Embiid was circumspect:

"I can’t really answer that. Because I felt the same way with the previous teams that we had because I believe in myself and the team so much. And even looking back, I still believe that if everybody would’ve played at their potential last year, we could have made at least the conference finals."

Philadelphia is fourth in the Eastern Conference but only 1.5 games back of the first-place Miami Heat.

Embiid has been excellent all year and has carried the Sixers for much of the season as they waited patiently for a resolution to the Ben Simmons situation. He's averaging 29.9 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists through 62 games.

But the 28-year-old's comments might mirror the sense of cautious optimism many Sixers fans are feeling at the moment.

Acquiring James Harden hasn't really changed all that much for the team. Since his debut on Feb. 25, Philly is 11-6.

The 76ers have had some impressive collective performances—beating the Minnesota Timberwolves by 31 points on Feb. 25 and taking down the Chicago Bulls by 15 points on March 7—but that's offset by some concerning losses.

Philadelphia suffered a 29-point drubbing at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets on March 10 and is coming off back-to-back losses to the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks, two fellow title contenders.

"It’s like the playoffs," Embiid told reporters after the Suns game. "Everything counts. You make one mistake, and it can turn out to be the difference. And tonight, we made a bunch of them. We weren’t organized."

Integrating Harden into the offense was always going to be a process, and that would inevitably lead to some uneven results. But executing the trade midseason rather than waiting until the summer was clearly about strengthening the Sixers' championship hopes now.

Especially with what Embiid has done this year, nobody doubts his desire to lift the Larry O'Brien Trophy. But there are still plenty of questions surrounding Philly with seven games left in the regular season.

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