What to expect from the 76ers when the NBA returns
We are less than a month away until the NBA resumes its 2020 season. With the proposal from last week being approved, the 76ers now have an idea of what needs to be done in this new environment to bring home the 2020 NBA Finals trophy.
For those of you interested in the NBA’s return to play format I will link that here.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 5, 2020
In a quick summary, the 76ers and the other 21 teams have 8 final regular-season games to determine seeding. Right now it looks to be a fight between the 4th through 6th seeds to determine where Philadelphia, Indiana, and Miami end up. With the Pacers and Sixers currently tied, Miami is 2 games ahead of them. There is an outside chance Philly catches Boston but they sit 4.5 games behind the Celtics. Barring a total collapse from Boston, it likely won’t happen.
The final 8 games for the 76ers is probably one of the best possible draws a team could get to finish out their season. Their order of games will be the following,
With the worst 8 teams eliminated everyone is going to have a difficult schedule. Not having to face some of the West’s elite talents is a huge relief for Philly. Every game on their schedule is winnable and nothing seems out of reach. Predicting how this would go, I would pencil in Washington, Phoenix, and Orlando as 4 easy wins. That leaves them at least 4-4.
Indiana is the most important as you will be fighting mainly against them to secure top 4-5 seeding in the East. Toronto also spells for a hopeful conference final opponent if they land in a top 5 seed and were to take out Milwaukee. Houston and Portland are good warmup games but nowhere near the talent they will face in the finals. Based off of that, I would likely see them finishing with a 5-3 or 6-2 record going into the playoffs.
The playoffs and how the 76ers will play is unknown. This situation has never happened before and the home court advantages are still undecided as well as what the arena atmosphere will be like without fans. Pure talent-wise, Philadelphia is in a great spot.
Ben Simmons who was fighting a back injury is back to full health and ready to go.
Joel Embiid had some much-needed rest to recuperate. And lastly, if injuries were bothering Al Horford, as some have suggested, he should be well rested and ready to go. Of course every other NBA team is now fully healthy and rested as well.
A major concern is the lack of being at home for the 76ers which provided a majority of their success. Without that advantage, the question arises, how will they perform in a neutral setting? On that, I think it is hard to tell because again, no NBA team has ever experienced it before so it will be a challenge for everyone to overcome.
Based off the final 8 games of the regular season if they were to win 5 or 6, I would place the Sixers in the 4th or 5th seed.
The first-round matchup will likely be Miami followed by Milwaukee and Toronto if they were to continue to move on. Until the regular season starts and we see how players respond after a long break, everyone is unsure on how this will turn out.
Now with this proposal, we are going to see the 2020-2021 season affected also, although not as much as this. With the draft being 3 days after the latest possible end date for the finals, and free agency soon after in October. The regular season won’t start until December.
This will likely mean a shortened regular season with the 2nd half running as usual. That would mean the 2021/2022 season will be the next full 82 game season.
It is just nice to finally see a return to basketball after about 3 months and a summer full of sports will be a nice change of pace than in years past.