ESPN claims "Embiid's return gives 76ers edge to be [East] champions"

Call me conservative, but I'd like to see a team win a series before we talk about them winning the East.
ESPN has placed the laurels of the Eastern Conference Championship atop the brow of Joel Embiid after playing precisely one playoff game in his life.

Don't get me wrong, I see the "Hinkie died for our sins" narrative, and it's a good one, even if it produced one of the worst half-decades of basketball the league has ever seen.

The Philadelphia 76ers may have been riding a 17-game winning streak before dropping a game to the mighty Miami Heat in their second game of the series - but this is a Miami squad with a great coach, no star, and little chance of advancing.

Sure, the Cleveland Cavaliers look as mortal as ever, dropping a home game to the Indiana Pacers (and nearly another if not for a herculean outing from LeBron James) - they haven't looked this beatable since James was but a lad of 25.

It's also true the Washington Wizards appear to be heading for a fishing trip with impressive speed, but last time I checked, the top two seeds - despite the Boston Celtics many injuries - were undefeated in their respective series.

Methinks the pronouncement a bit premature.

With Embiid back, I'll grant the 76ers ought to win this series. I respect Erik Spoelstra too much as a coach, and have seen what Kelly Olynyk can do when his back's against the wall, though, and would not at all be surprised to see this series go to seven games. I'll even go as far as to say it's not impossible for a healthy 76ers squad to sneak past Boston in the next round - but I consider that a longshot at best.

There's no way - none - they are getting past the Toronto Raptors, and if the Raps end up losing to the Cavs, well, I feel bad for Joel after LeBron gets done with him. OK, not really.

Let me just close by saying none of this is especially an indictment of the Sixers, either - they are riding the high of winning basketball after so long without it, and I imagine that's one hell of a drug. It's just a critique of a sports outlet that often seems to value narratives over substance, which I suppose is fine if that's what you're here for.

As for me, well - talk to me when the high wears off. Or at least they win around.

For more stories by Justin, click here.

Image: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Follow Justin at @justinquinnn