The Boston Celtics had the chance to raise the Larry O'Brien Trophy on Friday night. Instead of winning the storied franchise's 18th championship, though, Joe Mazzulla's team was absolutely dominated by the desperate Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, falling to Luka Doncic and company 122-84.

Before the game, Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid appeared on the ESPN broadcast from American Airlines Center. As host Malika Andrews speculated that Game 4 could mark the “beginning of a dynasty” for Boston, Embiid quickly interjected, explaining why the current kings of the East—and likely league at large soon enough—will soon lose their crown.

“I don't think so,” he said of the Celtics “winning multiple championships.” “Not with the new CBA. And then you also gotta understand the whole East was kinda hurt this year, myself included.”

Andrews then asked Embiid if he meant the Sixers would dethrone Boston next season.

“I mean, there's a pretty good chance,” he replied.

Pivotal offseason looms for 76ers

Joel Embiid
© Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia was broadly considered Boston's top Eastern Conference challenger throughout the regular season. Embiid suffered a knee injury in late January while playing the best basketball of his career, though, only returning to the floor a couple weeks before the playoffs. He then re-aggravated his surgically repaired knee during Game 1 of the first round against the New York Knicks, fighting through obvious discomfort as the Sixers fell to Tom Thibodeau's team in six games.

Odds are still that Boston wins the title this season. No team in league history has ever come back to win a postseason series, let alone the NBA Finals, after falling behind 3-0, and the Celtics have been far and away basketball's best team throughout 2023-24.

But even if Boston beats Dallas one more time to take the championship, the Sixers really may have more than a puncher's chance of beating the Celtics next season—as long as Daryl Morey makes a major splash or two in free agency or via trade this summer, that is. Philadelphia's presumed top target on the open market? Paul George, whose prior contract discussions with the Los Angeles Clippers didn't yield much progress and would be a perfect fit on the wing between Embiid and rising star guard Tyrese Maxey.

George, coincidentally, was ESPN's featured player guest for Friday's broadcast. While Embiid discussed his disdain for the Celtics, he not-so-subtly alluded to George finding his way to the Sixers this summer.

“I can't stand 'em. I can't stand 'em. I hate Boston. Great city, great fans, obviously they got some great players…Hopefully, this offseason we find a way to get better and add some pieces,” Embiid said, playing side-eyeing George sitting next to him.

Los Angeles still hopes to re-sign George once he opts out of his player option to hit free agency. But Philadelphia is reportedly a “team to monitor” for George come summer, who could be the final piece Joel Embiid, Maxey and the Sixers need to compete with Boston next season.