PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- There are big expectations for the Philadelphia 76ers and Tuesday night the journey begins as they open their season in Boston against the Celtics.
I caught up with former Sixer and basketball truth teller Charles Barkley.
We talked about the dynamic duo of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, why some players should take it down a notch on social media and what it will take for this team to make it deeper into the playoffs.
"It's a three team race in the Eastern conference and the Sixers are right there in that conversation and it's going to come down to Markelle (Fultz) plain and simple," Barkley said.
I asked Charles if he said that because of what he saw last year, and if he thought the Sixers really need that next player to really be contributing.
"Yes," he said. "The Celtics are not going to get worse. Toronto is better. Those are the two teams they have to beat. Unless Markelle can take his game up, they can't beat those two teams."
"There's nothing you can do to practice real basketball. During the summer he's practicing against people who are going to be waiters and bartenders -- nothing against waiters and bartenders," Barkley said. "First game he's playing against Kyrie Irving. There's nothing he can do in practice that can simulate him playing against Kyrie, Russell Westbrook, Rondo."
VIDEO: Charles Barkley on Markelle Fultz' return and biggest concern
Next we discussed Joelle Embiid and Ben Simmons. Does Barkley think they're the best duo in the league?
"I will say this about Ben and Joel: I'll take those two going forward for the next ten years," he said. "It's unlimited - their growth is unlimited. Both of those guys could be some of the greatest to play the game."
"The only problem with Joel has always been his health and Twitter," Barkley said with a laugh.
I asked Barkley if he thinks Embiid needs to take a step back off of his social media, considering the Sixers star has a lot of interesting things to say. For instance, he was on social media using it to try and get a date with Rihanna, he was back-and-forth on Instagram with the Chandler Parsons rivalry, and also talking to Deandre Ayton that he doesn't play defense.
"I don't do social media - never have never will," Barkley said. "It gives people access to you, to say mean nasty things. And you have to understand one thing, when you're famous, a lot of people's life is to say nasty mean things to you because they are losers or their life sucks. So, I don't give them that access. You don't need all that, what I call noise."
VIDEO: Charles Barkley on Joel Embiid: His health, Twitter and the future
There's a big lineup change with Markelle Fultz expected to start after being out the majority of last year.
Fans will be watching to see how this group will gel this year.
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