Securing the top seed is essential for the Sixers
The 76ers find themselves currently tied for first place in the Eastern Conference with the Brooklyn Nets. It has been a race between these two teams all season, and it will likely come down to the last few games to decide the conference. I know a lot of people might try and tell you that the top seed is not that important, but I’m here to counter that argument.
Looking at the current seeding, Philadelphia as the top seed would line up with the New York Knicks in the first round, a team whom Ben has never lost to in his career. Obviously, none of us are worried about the first-round matchup, but as long as Julius Randle doesn’t average 50 points/game I would assume this is a quick and painless series. Now compare that to being the second-seeded Nets who would face Boston in the first round.
While I am entirely confident in the Sixers being able to beat the Celtics without a problem, they do still have two All-Star caliber players who can make things interesting. I’d rather that be a problem for Brooklyn to handle. All of this could be rearranged due to the play-in tournament at the end of the season, but as it currently stands this is how the playoff picture looks with roughly 20 games to play:
The second round is where it really makes a difference. Based on the current standings, the Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Hornets would be facing off in the opening round, as the four and five seeds. Regardless of the winner, the Sixers would get to face a much weaker opponent in the second round.
On the other hand, the Nets would likely move on to face the Milwaukee Bucks and the reigning back-to-back MVP. Again, I am not questioning the Sixers’ ability to beat this team. But you’re lying if you wouldn’t rather take on Cody Zeller and the Hornets instead of Giannis and the Bucks. Even in the best-case scenario, the Bucks lose to the Miami Heat and whoever is the second seed will face Jimmy Butler and the reigning Eastern Conference Champions.
This is all in theory as of now, and the standings are obviously subject to change. There is a lot of validity to wanting to maintain the top seed as it gives Philadelphia a clear competitive advantage. In the collision course with Brooklyn in the Eastern Conference Finals, having the higher seed means home-court advantage as well. Being able to hold them off and hang on to the top seed is crucial and it makes sense that the 76ers have been so adamant about wanting to get that number one spot.
Philadelphia has an incredible chance to take sole possession of first place this week. While heading into a tough part of their schedule they do have a very winnable game against the Mavericks. They then go head-to-head with the Nets who will be without James Harden and likely Kyrie Irving as well. I’m not saying that the top seed is the end all be all, but it absolutely an advantage to have. If there is an opportunity to gain an advantage over a loaded team like the Nets, then that should be a priority.