Matt Cord Show

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Philadelphia 76ers playoff history includes great memories like 1983 NBA Finals and the incredible underdog run of Allen Iverson in 2001. However, recent history hasn’t been so kind.

Joel Embiid has reached superstar status, but five consecutive playoff losses have caused misery for a fan base starved for success.

The Sixers have lost in the second round in four of the past five seasons, and they now have to handle the constant conversation about whether or not they will finally get over the hump to the conference finals for the first time in 22 years.

Sixers public address announcer and MGK’s own Matt Cord shared some of his memories about Joel “The Process” Embiid and the disappointment of recent 76ers playoff history.

  • 2018- Celtics Defeat Upstart Sixers

    The young 76ers finally started competing during the 2017-18 season. They had developed some chemistry with a 25-25 record by the time the Eagles sent the city of Philadelphia into a frenzy with their first Super Bowl in franchise history in February 2018. 

    The energy of the Philadelphia fan base propelled a seven-game winning streak, and the Sixers never looked back. Breakout stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons became the faces of a franchise that looked like it was due for long-term success. 

    An incredible 16-game winning streak to end the regular season helped them to the third seed in the Eastern Conference, and the Sixers took care of the Miami Heat in the opening round in five games.

    The Boston Celtics had also lost their star Kyrie Irving to injury. Suddenly, they weren’t such heavy favorites against the Sixers in the second round.

    The Sixers couldn’t make the jump into the top tier of the NBA quickly enough. Three of their four losses against their historic rivals came by five points or less.

    “That series was just depressing. Game 5 was depressing. I was at Chickie’s and Pete’s. We hosted a party there. It was the first (playoff) year with Joel, and I kept telling people it took Iverson five years (to reach the NBA Finals).” -Matt Cord

  • 2019- Kawhi Leonard Misery

    Midseason acquisitions Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris completed the most talented starting lineup of “The Process” era. The Sixers cruised past the Nets in five games in the opening round with Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors on deck.

    The Sixers took a 2-1 lead at home in Game 3, but they fumbled a lead in the second half of Game 4 to let the Raptors off the hook with a 2-2 series tie.

    Both teams traded victories to set up a decisive Game 7 on a fateful day in Toronto on May 12, 2019. The Sixers trailed in the final minute, but Butler hit a clutch bucket to tie the game with 4.2 seconds left. 

    Sixers fans don’t like to remember what happened next. It was an unlucky bounce that put the dagger in their hearts in one of the worst losses in Philadelphia sports history.

    Embiid and Simmons chased Kawhi Leonard to the corner on the final play of the game. Leonard popped a jump shot that seemed like it hung in the air for an hour and bounced off the rim for another two before it sunk for the series win.

    The Raptors went on to win the NBA Finals after the Sixers had them on the ropes just a few weeks earlier.

    “We had all those people at Xfinity Live. Nothing worse than losing Game 7…The main monitor at Xfinity Live is about one or two seconds behind the monitor in the deejay booth, so I knew about one or two seconds before. So that was depressing, watching it in real time, then watching it one or two seconds later.” -Matt Cord

    76ers Playoff History

    Bobi Marjanović enjoying himself at the Wells Fargo Center in 2019

  • 2020- The Disney World Bubble

    It was a forgettable season for Philadelphia and for the NBA. The pandemic shut down any hope of normalcy for the league, and the playoffs took place at ESPN Wide World of Sports in the Walt Disney World bubble. 

    The Sixers couldn’t dig up a single playoff victory as the sixth seed. The Celtics took them down in the opening round and cost Brett Brown his job.

    “Back then he was playing better, but Ben (Simmons) was out that entire series. Since it was the bubble, I sent down audio of me saying players’ names when they scored. I did all the players. It didn’t work, obviously.” -Matt Cord

    76ers Playoff History

    Matt in his mask at the Wells Fargo Center

  • 2021- The Downfall of Ben Simmons

    The memory of the Kawhi Leonard buzzer beater might stick out as the most painful individual moment out of the past five seasons, but the 2021 playoff exit was just as devastating.

    The Sixers locked up the top seed in the Eastern Conference in their first season under Doc Rivers in 2020-21. They entered the playoffs as heavy favorites to get over the hump and advance to (at least) the conference finals for the first time in two decades.

    They took care of the Washington Wizards in five games despite Washington’s strategy to constantly foul Simmons, who was already a notoriously bad free-throw shooter.

    Embiid battled through a torn meniscus to help the Sixers to a 2-1 lead over Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks in the second round. He even led the Sixers to an 18-point lead in the 3rd quarter of Game 4. The series looked like it was over.

    The Sixers lost a golden opportunity to go up 3-1. They allowed an even bigger comeback in Game 5 in Philadelphia when the Hawks rallied from a 26-point deficit in the second half to take the series lead.

    Panic set in. Simmons shied away from the pressure and handcuffed his team.

    His unnecessary pass to Matisse Thybulle with three minutes remaining in Game 7 is the lasting image for Sixers fans remembering the disappointment of a former first-overall pick.

    “We lose in 7. I got out in the parking lot as everyone’s leaving, sold out building. This guy sees me, goes ‘Matt Cord, Ben Simmons sucks! I want you to say that right now,’…I remembering thinking ‘This was not a good scene. Why did I come out (of the building) early?'” -Matt Cord

    76ers Playoff History

    Matt in his Danny Green/Seth Curry T-Shirt in 2021

  • 2022- Déjà Vu

    The 2022 playoffs had a different feeling after the devastation against Atlanta the previous year. The distractions surrounding Ben Simmons took away from the regular season experience, but fans became optimistic after the addition of James Harden.

    Another Embiid injury felt like déjà vu. Pascal Siakam threw an elbow to face of the 7-footer in garbage time of the Game 6 clincher in the first round against the Raptors. A broken orbital bone limited Embiid in a second-round series loss to the Heat.

    “We lose to Miami, but Joel had a broken face and no thumb. With a healthy Embiid, we win that series. Harden was not healthy either.” -Matt Cord

    76ers Playoff History

    Matt Cord with Former Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel

  • 2023- Hope for the Future?

    The Sixers can right the wrongs of the past in the 2023 NBA Playoffs. Embiid, Doc Rivers, and the rest of the team would erase all the pain with the franchise’s first NBA Championship since 1983.

    They enter the postseason as the third seed in the Eastern Conference with a matchup against the Brooklyn Nets, and Eastern Conference powerhouses like the Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks provide a legitimate threat in the later rounds.

    “Both Joel and James are healthy, and we have a better bench, the acquisitions of Danuel House, Georges Niang, Jalen McDaniels, and De’Anthony Melton. Tyrese (Maxey) is a given too.” -Matt Cord

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