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May 23, 2021

Sixers 125, Wizards 118: Live updates, analysis and highlights from Game 1

Maybe it's because they pretty much had the No. 1 seed locked up for the final couple of weeks. Maybe it's because, with the play-in tournament, it feels like we've been watching playoff basketball for a week now. Or maybe it's because it's been two decades since there was this much promise surrounding a Sixers team heading into the postseason. Whatever the reason is, it sure feels like we've been waiting for this for a while.

But that all changes today, as Game 1 of their opening round series against the Wizards tips off on Sunday afternoon from the Wells Fargo Center. And for the first time since Allen Iverson was running things in South Philly, the Sixers enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. And the excitement — and expectations — are high. 

MORE: A 2021 Sixers playoff primer for the casual fan in your life | WTS: Questioning Simmons, praising Thybulle, and what could go wrong for Sixers in playoffs | Sixers vs. Wizards playoff preview: Matchups, weaknesses, and predictions for round one series

It seems the Sixers aren't shying away from that fact, as they tweeted this hype video on Saturday night that seemed to hint they think a Finals run is on the horizon.

In many respects, anything less than a trip to the NBA Finals would be a disappointment — after all, they'll have homecourt advantage throughout and have the easiest path they could've hoped for — but they're still not the favorites to get it done. According to Pickswise, FanDuel has the Sixers second (behind Brooklyn) in the Eastern Conference at +270 to get to the Finals and tied with Milwaukee for the fifth best odds overall at winning the title at +800.

So while the expectations locally are high, many nationally, including the sportsbooks, think the souped-up Brooklyn Nets are the clear frontrunner to represent the East. Maybe that will provide the Sixers, who pretty much went wire-to-wire as the Eastern Conference's best team, with a chip on their shoulder, something that may come in handy after last season's humbling first-round sweep at the hands of the Celtics. 

This is a new team, however. They have new pieces around their stars, thanks to a new leader in the front office in Daryl Morey. They also have a new coach, Doc Rivers, who has a championship pedigree, seemed to maximize his players, like Tobias Harris, and has Joel Embiid playing at an MVP level and looking like a better fit alongside Ben Simmons than he ever has.

Could this be the year for the Sixers? Could they make it back to the Finals for the first time in 20 years? Could they capture their first title in nearly 40?

First, they'll have to get past Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal and the Wizards. And that quest begins on Sunday with a Game 1 matinee. We'll have you covered with all the live updates, highlights and analysis you can handle right here in our live tracker. 

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