The NBA Finals is a lose-lose scenario for the Philadelphia 76ers

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The 2023 NBA Finals kick off tonight with the Denver Nuggets hosting the Miami Heat in Game 1. Denver and Miami have had entirely different paths in getting to the Finals this season. Denver is the 1-seed in the Western Conference and had the best record in the West for most of the season. There was much discussion about the upstart Sacramento Kings, the reigning defending champion Golden State Warriors, and the new-look Los Angeles Lakers. Still, the Nuggets deserve their respect for their wire-to-wire dominance this season.

Miami on the other hand eeked into the playoffs after losing their first Play-In Tournament game to the Atlanta Hawks and having to beat the Chicago Bulls in a playoff elimination game for the 8-seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Since then though, the Heat motored through the East’s 1-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, the New York Knicks, and last year’s Eastern Conference Finals winner Boston Celtics. They are battle-tested and appear to be a different team than the one that underperformed throughout the regular season.

Whoever wins the Finals, it is a lose-lose scenario for the Philadelphia 76ers.

If the Nuggets win, you can be sure a national ancillary discussion will be that Joel Embiid’s MVP award this year was a fluke. Nikola Jokic, a two-time MVP who was Embiid’s primary competition this season, will likely win NBA Finals MVP if his team wins and will have brought his city an NBA Championship, something Embiid has yet to do. After all Embiid’s campaigning over the last three years, it will be a tough visual if Jokic wins a Championship the same year Embiid won his MVP.

However, if the Heat wins, the Jimmy Butler discussion will reign heavily in the city of Philadelphia. The Butler-led Philadelphia 76ers likely had the best chance of recent Sixers teams to win an NBA Championship. If it weren’t for a Kawhi Leonard quadruple rim bounce, the Sixers would have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals and potentially followed the same trajectory the future NBA Champion Raptors did. Jimmy leaving and winning before the Sixers do is also a tough visual and would be a tough pill to swallow for the fans of this team.

So now we Philadelphia 76ers fans have to watch Nikola Jokic and Jimmy Butler play in the NBA Finals, with one of them guaranteed their first Championship ring, while we debate which outcome is worse. Hey, at least Embiid won an MVP this year, right?