The Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics engaged in one of the most entertaining series of this year's NBA postseason when they met in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Boston pulled out a five-game win, but it was a highly competitive series, and it gave fans a glimpse into what should be a fun matchup for years to come.
This year, the Sixers' goal is to knock off the Celtics, according to emerging star Ben Simmons. The versatile second-year swingman says the Celtics are "at the top right now," so Philly has its sights set on Brad Stevens' squad.
"We've got to get past Boston, those are the guys at the top right now," Simmons said, according to the Sporting News. "Beating them, that's our next goal. Obviously getting further than the second round and winning the Eastern Conference Finals and then moving on to the Finals."
That's not to say the Celtics and Sixers will be without competition. Don't rule out the Toronto Raptors, who had the best record in the East this year and could be better if Kawhi Leonard returns at full strength. The Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards shouldn't be counted out, either.
Last season, Simmons played in 81 games and averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 assists, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game. The 22-year-old was considered an All-Star snub, and it'd be surprising if he missed out on that honor this year—but he's aiming higher.
"I knocked off one of those [Rookie of the Year], the next one is MVP," Simmons said in the interview.