Two Games Remaining: What Needs to Happen for the 76ers to Lock in the One Seed for the Playoffs
The Philadelphia 76ers lost to the Miami Heat last night 106-94. It really didn’t take long to figure out that the Sixers didn’t have their best performances. The Heat controlled the game throughout and Jimmy Butler got the Miami offense whatever they wanted early on. Miami went on an 18-8 run over the final five minutes of the first quarter to build a 38-22 lead and essentially end the game before it even started.
With the loss, the Sixers’ magic number to clinch the number one seed in the Eastern conference remains at one game, with two games left to play. The final two games of the season will be against the Orlando Magic.
The Sixers need to win one of their final two games to finish ahead of Milwaukee and Brooklyn for the top spot in the East. The two-game series against Orlando will start tonight at the Wells Fargo Center. Tonight will be the second leg of a back-to-back before closing out the regular season on Sunday.
The Nets had off Thursday night and play the Bulls on Saturday and the Cavs on Sunday. Both games will be in Brooklyn and should be easily won by the Nets. The Bucks will face the Heat on Saturday and the Bulls on Sunday to finish their regular season.
Winning last night’s game against the Heat would have been ideal. The Sixers could have locked the number one seed and increased the chances that Miami would fall to as low as the sixth seed in the East rather than the four seed in the East. In hindsight, it would have been nice to keep Embiid in Philly and well-rested for the Magic series rather than flying him down to Miami to lose in blow-out fashion, but now the Sixers will need to rebound quickly and make quick work of the Magic tonight to avoid a third blown attempt at clinching the one seed.
The Magic are 21-49 and losers of five straight games. They should be no match for the Sixers, regardless of who is playing. Doc Rivers “assumed” that everyone was fine to play tonight and that he wouldn’t have played Embiid last night if he wasn’t 100 percent. Still, the Sixers are now just one bad game away on the wrong side of a back-to-back to force a must-win, final game of the regular season for the one seed in the Eastern Conference.
Although this wasn’t the situation we thought the Sixers would be in just a few days ago, there’s no reason to hit the panic button. By Monday, the Sixers will achieve the only goal that matters right now, clinching the number one seed heading into the playoffs.