76ers owner says first-round playoff exit would be 'very problematic'

76ers owner Josh Harris is fully aware of what is at stake as Philadelphia prepares for the playoffs, acknowledging an early playoff exit would be “problematic.”

Harris explained Friday he’s aware if the season were to end right now with the current NBA standings, the 76ers likely would face the Celtics in the first-round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. With Philadelphia 2-9 against Boston over the past three regular seasons and its elimination by Boston in the second round of the playoffs last year, Harris expressed how disappointed the organization would be if it fell to the Celtics again. 

“It would be problematic,” Harris told ESPN. “Very problematic. It would not be what we’re playing for.

“We’d be unhappy. I’d be unhappy. The city would be unhappy. We’re going to work hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. We have enough talent on our roster that if we play the way we’re capable of playing, we can beat any team in the East.”

Harris, however, reiterated his confidence by pointing to the talent and depth the 76ers have developed.

“I think we have enough talent to go very deep in the playoffs,” he said. “We want to make sure at a minimum to advance deeper in the playoffs than we did last year. We’ve brought a lot of talent here. They haven’t been together that long, but we’re hopeful we can position them for a deep run. It’s exciting. I’m focused, but I’m also nervous.”

Harris addressed the changes the 76ers made to help bolster their roster, and revealed he encouraged his front office to be proactive in strengthening their lineup ahead of last month’s trade deadline. Philadelphia acquired Jimmy Butler earlier this season and Tobias Harris at the deadline.

“We gave up a lot to get Tobias and Jimmy on our team,” Harris said. “We think they’re exceptional talents. We’re going to try to keep them. We know we are going to have to pay these guys in an appropriate way. … We get it. It’s expensive.”

The 76ers currently are 40-22 and sitting fourth in the Eastern Conference behind the Bucks, Raptors and Pacers. Harris explained the primary focus for the franchise is now on winning playoff series with the hopes of bringing home a title.

“Success for us is going to be about winning playoff series,” Harris said. “Obviously, we’d like to have a good regular season, too, but we’ve added and subtracted to win in the playoffs. We won one playoff series last season. We’ve created more talent on the roster.

“We’re holding ourselves accountable.”