Sixers and the NBA Playoffs


Brendan McGuire , Sports Editor

With the NBA playoffs quickly approaching, many teams are making their final pushes for spots in the playoffs. Teams like the Celtics, Hornets, Heat, Wizards, Pacers, Spurs, Grizzlies, Warriors, and Lakers can all see their seasons end abruptly with just two losses in the final three to five games of the season.

However, the home team Sixers are thankfully not in this picture and a playoff berth with a top-five seeding is something that Sixers fans have been accustomed to seeing over the last four years or so. Of course, the suffering through the “process era” cannot be forgotten as well.

But this year the Sixers find themselves in a different position, as one of the favorites to win the NBA Finals. Sure, the Sixers have had a couple of rough patches this season. They dropped two games to the Milwaukee Bucks late in which they suffered both a twenty-point and forty-point loss in a matter of sixteen hours. However, Sixers point guard Ben Simmons did not play in either of those games.

The two games before the Bucks were also losses, both of which were to two good teams as well. The Sixers dropped one at home to the Warriors and a red hot Steph Curry, who finished the game with thirty-seven minutes played and forty-nine points, and they lost the following game to a very good and frontcourt heavy Suns team who currently sits at second place in the Western Conference.

Other than that four-game stretch, the Sixers have been thoroughly impressed and shown a tenacious mentality that was nowhere to be seen during the days of Brett Brown. The Sixers are finally running an NBA-style offensive set with a great emphasis on getting the ball into MVP candidate Joel Embiid when he is in the game.
On top of that, the bench for the Sixers seems to be hitting a streak of their own late in the season and this could possibly be a deciding factor for the Sixers come playoff time given the fact that the bench has been utterly atrocious at certain points this season.

In fact, the only noticeable flaw in the Sixers roster or schemes right now is the fact that Steph Curry has been in a shooting slump for about two months now. But with players like Seth, they can heat up at any moment.

The formula is simple, but of course, easier said than done: Embiid needs to stay healthy and manage the doubles maturely. If he can get doubled and then kick the ball to a Danny Green on the three or a streaking Ben Simmons then it is a win for the Sixers.
Sure, Joel may not be putting up thirty a game, but the offense will keep a steady flow and the ball will not get stuck at a midpoint between the block and the three-point arc. This is what happened last year and in 2018 against the Celtics and two years ago against the Raptors. Embiid gets doubled and the ball either got turned over, an ugly shot was taken, or the rare occasion that Embiid had enough time to get the ball swung around to a player like Simmons or Jimmy Butler and they could make a play with the ball.

Now, however, the percentage of open looks the Sixers are getting in a given game has gone way up. Embiid is seeing the court better and Doc River, Sixers head coach, is executing the offense needed so that players like Seth Curry, Danny Green, or Tobias Harris are one solid pass away from a wide-open three or an easy layup.

So, what are the Sixers up against in the Eastern Conference playoffs? Well, by clinching the one seed, they will only have to go up against one of the two top teams in the Eastern Conference. Those two teams being the Nets and the Bucks.

The Nets, Bucks, and Sixers had been in a race for the one spot all year and as the standings show, the Sixers have won the first of many competitions between these three teams. It is likely that the Bucks and Nets will meet in an Eastern Conference Semifinal series barring a stunning upset by a team like the Hawks, Knicks, or Heat. So, in closing the Sixers chances at an Eastern Conference Finals berth are looking incredibly and almost shockingly likely at the moment. In fact, one could argue that aside from a complete collapse on the part of the Sixers, which can happen, the chances of a Sixers finals appearance.

This is especially exciting to think about as the Wells Fargo Center, the Sixers arena is going to begin allowing 10,000 fans into the stadium come May 21st, just in time for the playoffs. This is about double the capacity the Sixers are currently allowing into the arena making the percentage of filled seats about 51%.

Hopefully, a parade down Broad Street is in the near future for the Philadelphia 76ers.