By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
As we get closer and closer to the 2017-18 NBA season, optimism around the Sixers has been gaining steam like a runaway train. However, it isn’t just homer Philadelphia fans who have high expectations for the team in the upcoming campaign. Tuesday afternoon, Jeff Sherman, manager of the sportsbook in Westgate Las Vegas, posted the projected win totals for every NBA team. It would appear that the denizens of the desert are counting on the Sixers to be a fairly formidable force in the Eastern Conference.
2017-18 NBA reg season wins
— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) August 29, 2017
The Westgate set Philadelphia’s win total at 42.5, tied with Charlotte for the 7th-highest total in the Eastern Conference. The line of 42.5 represents a significant jump of more than 14 wins from last season’s 28-54 record. Vegas expects the Sixers to not only return to the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 season, but to have their first winning record in a non-lockout-shortened season since 2004-05 (Philadelphia went 35-31 following the 2011 lockout). Think about that. The last time the Sixers had a winning record across 82 games, Allen Iverson was averaging 30.7 points per game, Chris Webber was the team’s second-leading scorer, and Andre Iguodala was only 21 years old. It’s been a rough decade-plus of Sixers basketball.
Now, behind a (fingers and toes crossed) healthier Joel Embiid, rookies Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, key free agent acquisition J.J. Redick, and continued improvement from the other young players on the roster, the drought of losing seasons will finally come to an end, at least according to the human calculators in Las Vegas. For those of you who were still holding on to your deeply ingrained Philadelphia sports pessimism in the face of all the excitement surrounding this 76ers team, remember the old adage: Vegas always knows.