The Sixers are on the precipice of clinching their first playoff spot since 2012. It's been a long six years, but The Process is looking like it's working.
Before Tuesday night's games, Philly had a magic number of four to clinch a spot — which could be improved with a Pistons loss to the Suns late Tuesday. Essentially, the Sixers are two wins away from guaranteeing their place in the postseason.
For a team carrying the highest torch of losing in the sport of basketball for half a decade, the Wells Fargo Center will be a magical place this spring. Is the team, led by a bevy of players in their early 20s, ready for it?
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"This is foreign territory for a lot of our guys," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "We can talk all about Dario [Saric] playing at Efes, and Ben [Simmons] playing at LSU, Joel [Embiid] playing at Kansas — it’s not the NBA playoffs. The NBA, 82 regular season vs. the NBA playoffs is a different sport. It’s played a little differently, it’s reffed a little differently. And the young guys will experience that, and you get a little smarter and better and hardened as time goes on, but it is not for the faint or weary. It’s a man’s world, especially, when you get into a seven-game series, and it’s different.”
Philly has 13 games left to jocky for their playoff positioning. They can end up, realistically, seeded anywhere from 8-to-3.
Home court advantage is the No. 1 thing the team should be concerned with.
The squad is 1.5 games behind the Cavaliers for the 3-spot and one game behind the Pacers for the four spot. Avoiding LeBron James and the Cavs would give the Sixers a much better chance at advancing to the second round. As would avoiding the top two runaway seeds in Boston and Toronto. Which means avoiding the seventh and eight seeds is also a desirable achievement.
Philly has the absolute easiest schedule left in the NBA, facing just three likely playoff teams (the Timberwolves, Cavaliers and Bucks) in their final 13 contests with the other 10 against teams competing for a good lottery spot. Including going up against the Grizzlies fresh off their 15th straight loss.
Things are looking good for now, and for a potential home Game 1 when the playoffs start in April. Lets hope the team can be well-rested enough to compete during the NBA's "second season."
"In 21 days we had played 12 games and we were on the road for like 14 days, had two back-to-backs, now we’ve got four games in six days and so sandwiched in between," Brown said after a win against Charlotte Monday. The sooner Philly can clinch, the sooner they can rest a bit.