It’s a discussion hardly anyone could have honestly anticipated just two short years ago when the Sixers ended their season with just 10 total wins.

But here we are, asking the question: What do the Sixers need to do to make a deep playoff run?

Yes, the Sixers are in the playoffs, and they have shown plenty of signs this season that not only can they potentially win a playoff series, in a wide-open Eastern Conference, maybe even make a deep playoff run.

Here are 5 keys to the Sixers making a deep playoff run this year:

Get Dominate Ben Simmons

When the Sixers lost Joel Embiid, many wondered if they would be able to close out the season strong, and pick up the conferences No. 3 seed with out him.

Enter Ben Simmons.

Everyone knows the numbers of how poor the Sixers had played without Embiid out of the lineup (3-10), but that was then and this is now.

Simmons picked up his game even more, with Embiid off-the-court, leading them to a 8-0 record without the all-star big man, and 16 straight wins overall.

Even with the attention growing, Simmons has become almost unstoppable, the triple-double machine is averaging 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists for the season.

 

Get Joel Embiid Back

Honestly, for the Sixers to be a legit title contender, they are going to need Joel Embiid back on the floor, if for no other reason than his defense and rim protection.

Sure he is a dominate offensive player, but the Sixers really need his defense, especially late in games.  Sure Embiid scores 22.9 points, grabs 11 rebounds per game, but its his 1.8 blocks and ability to alter shots that the Sixers might lack the most right now.

Is Embiid's return the X-factor for the Sixers making a deep playoff run?

Many would say that.

Thrive In Late-Game Situations

One of the things the Sixers have done to turn things around is figured out how to close out games.

How many games would the Sixers have won if they had closed out some games earlier in the season, blowing big leads on multiple occasions in losses to teams like Sacramento, Phoenix, and Chicago to name a few. They also coughed up big leads early in the year to Houston and Toronto and Washington.

Playoff basketball more often than not comes down to how teams handle late-game situations. It’s a different type of pressure in the postseason, the big questions is without Embiid, who do the Sixers turn to in these late game pressure situations to take and make a key basket?

J.J. Redick, Dario Saric, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz?

Markelle Fultz

Let’s put Embiid and Simmons aside for a second.

The Sixers added the No. 1 overall pick in the draft with just 10 games left to go in the year, and he has shown flashes of brilliance, including his first every triple-double in the win over Milwaukee - becoming the youngest player in NBA history to accomplish that.

Returning so late in the season, how Brett Brown uses Fultz should be interesting to keep an eye on.  Does he stick with the steady T.J. McConnell, or does he turn the second unit completely over to Fultz in the playoffs.

Fultz has gone from a lost season, to potentially a key role player for the Sixers. Outside of Embiid and Simmons, no Sixers’ player has the talent that Fultz has, nor the ability to get to the basket like Fultz has shown.

J.J. Redick, Marco Belinelli Dario Saric, Robert Covington and Ersan Ilyasova all have the ability to stretch the floor, which has been is vital to the success to this team, but in the playoffs, when you need that tough - take the ball to the basket moment - Fultz just might be the best option to provide that.

Bench Providing Punch

Early in the season, as mentioned above, the Sixers coughed up a ton of big leads and had problems closing out games.  That began to change once the team added some key bench pieces, especially, Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova.

Those two additions gives Brett Brown much more flexibility and the ability to keep guys fresh, while not losing to much talent.

In addition to Belinelli and Ilyasova, the Sixers have added No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz to give the Sixers some offensive punch off-the-bench.

The bench is no longer an Achilles heel for the Sixers This is a group that will be counted on if the Sixers expect to make a deep playoff run.

The Pick: Sixers in Five over Miami Heat