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With all the chaos of the 2019-2020 NBA season, it seemed for a while that the Philadelphia 76ers would finally start to make some progress on “The Process”.

The end of the 2019 Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors, which was about as tough a loss as fans have ever seen to end a season, gave some hope that the Sixers would kick on in 2020 and make a run to the Eastern Conference Finals or beyond.

But that did not happen. In fact, they regressed: Philadelphia got swept out of the First Round by the Boston Celtics, setting in motion a chain of events that fans, and bettors, hope will lead to an eventual title.

Philly brought in Daryl Morey, last of the Houston Rockets, to become the new president of Basketball operations. Then, the Sixers hired Doc Rivers to replace Brett Brown as head coach.

Unlike the moves made years ago, these were made to get Philadelphia a championship now. Not in five years, nor eight years, but in the near future, i.e. 2021 or 2022.

But looking at the odds to win and the preseason power rankings in the Eastern Conference, are the Sixers set up to win now?

Most sportsbooks in New Jersey have Philly as the fifth or sixth choice, at betting odds of around +1200, to win the East two weeks before the new campaign starts on December 22. The Sixers are behind the Milwaukee Bucks (at odds +220), according to NJ sports betting apps,  the new-look Brooklyn Nets (+250), the Boston Celtics (+650), and the defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat (+750), and have about the same odds as the Toronto Raptors (+1200).

Now, if you remember correctly, the Heat were the five seed in the Eastern Conference and eventually went to the 2020 NBA Finals. But the Sixers might be the fourth-best team in the Atlantic Division, let alone in the conference: can they really win a title?

Philadelphia backers are going to say, “Of course, Philly all the way!”

And maybe they are correct: with odds of +1200, if you believe that much in your team, it is worth a shot putting some money down on the rejuvenated 76ers.

But if the Nets come out firing with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the Celtics young core gets better, and/or the Bucks take that next step like Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls did in the late 1980s (that is a stretch), can this Philadelphia team really win three playoff rounds to win the East?

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