Doc Rivers told his Philadelphia 76ers team to be proud of clinching the top seed in the Eastern Conference but says the accomplishment is only one part of their ultimate goal.
Just five years since the 76ers recorded a 10-win season, a 122-97 triumph over the Orlando Magic on Friday secured top billing in the East for the first time in 20 years.
Seth Curry put up 20 points while Joel Embiid contributed 13 points and 11 rebounds as the 76ers made certain of home-court advantage for the playoffs.
Head coach Rivers was keen to talk up what his team have done, while also ensuring minds stay focused on the main prize: a first NBA title for the franchise since 1983.
s i x e r s . w i n pic.twitter.com/nvWoBE9r49— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) May 15, 2021
"It's an accomplishment. I don't want to downplay it, but I told our guys to enjoy, I don't want to call it a moment, I told them to enjoy the second, because it's not what we want, but it's part of what you can get on the way to what you want," Rivers said.
"I think for this team, as young as we are, to have home-court [advantage] is really important. It's nice to have. We should feel proud of it."
The last time the 76ers topped the Eastern Conference ahead of the postseason, Philadelphia – led by MVP Allen Iverson – went on to reach the NBA Finals, though they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 4-1.
Philadelphia have not advanced that far since, failing to make it beyond the conference semi-finals in 2003, 2012, 2018 and 2019, while they were swept in the first round by the Boston Celtics last season.
The 76ers round out their regular season with another clash against the Magic on Sunday.