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Stephen A. Smith declares Philly is going to the NBA Finals

Sixers

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith joined Hall of Famer Charles Barkley and the Philadelphia 76ers bandwagon, picking them to make the NBA Finals. The household sports radio and TV voice made the claim during Friday’s iteration of First Take.

“The Philadelphia 76ers are going to the NBA Finals,” said Smith, noting the Boston Celtics still have the best perimeter-oriented attack in the league and could be a considerable threat.

The Sixers might have lost Jimmy Butler, but they acquired strong pieces in a sign-and-trade deal with the Miami Heat, getting a capable young player in Josh Richardson, as well as the re-signing of Tobias Harris and a deal for Al Horford, who had proved to be Joel Embiid’s playoff nemesis.

Philadelphia improved its all-around defense and their firepower, and could be ready to take a massive leap after other powerhouses like the Celtics and the Toronto Raptors no longer have their core players.

Recently, Barkley picked the Sixers to win it all, and Smith is stopping just shy of it with his NBA Finals prediction.

Ultimately, Philly will have to answer some questions regarding their shooting after the loss of J.J. Redick, while also testing Ben Simmons’ new-and-improved jumper, which he showcased in several offseason videos.

The Sixers’ biggest immediate rival could be the Milwaukee Bucks, who mustered the best record in the league last year after reaching 60 wins, but lost Malcolm Brogdon in free agency, which could change the scope of the Eastern Conference race heading into the upcoming season.