76ers set for season opener with championship expectations

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- After a painful ending to last season that cost Brett Brown his job, the Sixers return Wednesday night for their season opener against the Washington Wizards.

The Sixers have a new coach --Doc Rivers-- and a new-look lineup around Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Sixers believe this team can be special with what Rivers calls his two studs.

"The goal is to win, our goal is to win a championship, and we're gonna work hard to do so. The goal of this season is to win this whole thing," Joel Embiid says.

Ben Simmons, who said the Sixers were not prepared when they went to the NBA bubble in Orlando last season, believes things will be different now with this new roster around him that will help with spacing and shooting, yet still emphasize defense.

"The first thing is we have new players who are additions to the team and their games are completely different to the guys we had previously, and I think the movement and the pace we're gonna play with and hopefully execution will be a lot better," said Simmons.

Rivers loves the spirit and attitude of this team coming into the opener, but he's cautiously optimistic about how fast they will gel early on. And yes, Rivers feels the pressure and the weight to take this underachieving team over the top this season.

As the old saying goes, 'defense wins championships' and the Sixers believe their star-studded defense centered around Embiid and Simmons can lead the way.

"I would like to be defensive player of the year, MVP, but none of that will happen if we don't win. We have a potential to be the best defensive team in the league," Embiid adds.

"Overall we have guys buying in, Danny Green, Dwight (Howard), guys who have that experience who have played at the higher championship level, who know what it takes to win," Simmons says of the new supporting cast.

How Seth Curry, Howard and Green gel together remains to be seen.

Rivers is optimistic about how this will work early on, but he still believes in the end result will have them competing for a championship.

"I think we have to believe it. You have to feel special to be special. I don't think I need to make a forecast or anything. I do believe that though, we have Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid on our basketball team. And right now teams that have 2 NBA all-stars and all defensive players tend to fair well, and so I think we are special in that regard," Rivers said.
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