Charles Barkley is beloved in Philadelphia. And he loves Philly right back. While Barkley has remained loyal to the city and the team where he made his name, that certainly doesn’t mean the organization is exempt from his criticism. After the team’s Game 2 performance against the Boston Celtics in the opening round of the NBA playoffs, the organization has once again found itself in the middle of Barkley’s crosshairs. And he didn’t hold back.
Charles Barkley picks Philadelphia 76ers to make the NBA Finals
The 2018-19 season for the Philadelphia 76ers organization was a huge step in the right direction. It was a building block for the future. The team finished off the regular season with a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference and a 51-31 record. But it wasn’t the regular season were high expectations were born, it was the playoffs.
After rolling over the Brooklyn Nets in the opening round series by a 4-1 margin, the 76ers took on the Toronto Raptors and superstar Kawhi Leonard. The series went back and forth and was tied 3-3 heading back to Toronto for the deciding Game 7.
Philadelphia played solid throughout the series and the contest. The 76ers had a chance to win the game late, but it was Leonard’s late-game heroics on the crazy game-winning shot at the buzzer that abruptly ended what many believed was an opportunity for the 76ers to make a deep run into the playoffs. It was a disappointing finish but provided a positive outlook for the future.
Barkley was so optimistic heading into the 2019-20 season he predicted the 76ers would make the NBA Finals. “I guarantee you the Philadelphia 76ers are gonna win the Eastern Conference,” Barkley said in August 2019.
76ers disappointing effort in Game 2
The 76ers regular season in 2019-20 didn’t live up to the expectations. The team finished the pre-pandemic regular season with a 39-26 record. Since the restart, Philadelphia posted a 4-4 record in the bubble.
On August 5, in a game against the Washington Wizards, Ben Simmons suffered a knee injury, and the 76ers closed out the season in the bubble losing three out of five heading into the playoffs. The Sixers earned a No. 6 seed and would face the No. 3 seeded Boston Celtics.
In Game 1, Philadelphia had a chance to win the game late, but the Celtics held on for the 109-101 victory. Game 2, however, was a very different story. After leading by as many as 14, the 76ers held a 33-27 lead to close out the first quarter. The Celtics responded and outscored Philly 38-24 in the second. During the TNT halftime show, Barkley wasn’t pleased with what he saw.
“I hate the Sixers defensive intensity. This is, to me, like a scrimmage … They’re like, ‘Hey, let’s just come out here and play hard for a little bit. Doesn’t matter if we win or lose. We got a built-in excuse because Ben Simmons is not here (due to his knee surgery).’ That’s what it looks like to me.”
Charles Barkley calls performance ‘disgraceful’
While Charles Barkley wasn’t happy with the first-half effort of the Philadelphia 76ers, he was extremely disappointed with the second half as the Celtics pulled away for a 128-101 victory. Barkley expressed his frustration following the game on the Inside the NBA broadcast.
“They were not competing. What those guys did tonight, that was disgraceful for the 76ers organization. I’m disappointed because that was my team I picked to go to the Finals before the beginning of the season. They’re playing like a team now where you know what, we don’t have Ben (Simmons), let’s get this thing over with, and let’s get out of the bubble. They did not compete tonight.”
Charles Barkley, who has never been one to mince words, was spot on with his evaluation and critique of Philadelphia. It will be interesting to see if the Sixers come out with any more effort in Game 3 on Friday, or if it’s the same lackluster intensity. If it’s the latter, you can be sure Barkley will let them hear about it.