Philadelphia 76ers fans aren’t the only ones who were shocked that the East’s top-seeded team wasn’t able to take care of business at home against the Atlanta Hawks in Game 7. That feeling also extends to the 76ers’ front office.
“I’m still stunned sitting here that we didn’t win Game 7 at home,” Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey confessed to media members during his end of season availability on Tuesday.
The Sixers lost the series against Atlanta despite the fact that they had home-court advantage and took an early 2-1 lead in the series. Philadelphia blew leads of 18 points or more in Games 4 and 5, and still had an opportunity to win the series in front of its home crowd. The Sixers fought hard all season to secure the top seed in the East, and being able to host a decisive Game 7 in front of a raucous crowd at the Wells Fargo Center was their reward. Ultimately, though, it wasn’t enough. The Hawks won the final game of the series, 103-96, to advance to the Eastern Conference finals, while the Sixers’ postseason ended earlier than expected with plenty of time to contemplate their collapse. The way Morey sees it, Philadelphia’s failures this season are an indictment on him.
“You want to go into the playoffs as the favorites to win the title, and we weren’t,” Morey said. “Look, ultimately you win or lose mostly with your players. It’s my job to get the best players, and frankly, we didn’t have quite good enough players.”
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Morey has been with the Sixers for less than a calendar year, and he has already made major improvements to the roster. Trading Josh Richardson for Seth Curry was an excellent move, as was getting out from under Al Horford’s albatross of a contract by moving him to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Danny Green. Morey also drafted Tyrese Maxey, who appears to have an extremely bright future in the league. Those moves, while all solid, obviously weren’t enough in and of themselves this season. But while Morey is understandably disappointed about the way his first campaign in Philadelphia came to an end, he isn’t all doom and gloom and remains extremely optimistic about the Sixers’ outlook moving forward. As such, he pushed back on the narrative that the team is in an unenviable spot.
“A lot of what I’m reading I frankly don’t understand — people saying the Sixers are in a bad situation,” Morey said. “I don’t choose to come here, Doc…