They didn't win in D.C. but Sixers know they may need to in playoffs

They didn't win in D.C. but Sixers know they may need to in playoffs


WASHINGTON — The Sixers’ 58th game of the regular season very well could have had playoff implications, or even been a preview of a postseason pairing. 

The Wizards (35-25) hold the fourth seed in the East, a coveted position for the last shot at home-court advantage. The Sixers (32-26) are two games behind them in seventh, a close but still significant differential with a tight battle among several teams. 

The Wizards kept their distance by snapping the Sixers’ seven-game winning streak, 109-94 (see observations)

“It’s a chance, depending on how the year plays out, we might cross match,” Robert Covington said. “You’ve got two unbelievable atmospheres with Washington and Philly. Home court is going to play a big part in it.”

The Sixers had reaped the benefits of a rare five-game homestand heading into the All-Star break. In fact, they have not lost at the Wells Fargo Center in 2018, feeding off the energy of their fans and the vibe in the city since the Eagles won the Super Bowl. 

The Sixers are embarking on a three-game road trip, though, against playoff-contending teams. They will have to play through adverse environments as they face the Heat on Tuesday and Cavaliers Thursday. 

“We’ve been undefeated at home for quite a bit now,” Joel Embiid said. “If you want to be a playoff team you’ve got to win those type of (home) games. But at the same time, you’ve got to go on the road and try to steal one.”

Stealing one on the road against the Wizards is something the Sixers have struggled to do in their last eight trips. They have not won in Washington since Nov. 1, 2013. 

They fell flat in their efforts Sunday. The Wizards led by as many as 23 points and squashed the Sixers’ late-game comeback attempt. Bradley Beal (24 points), Otto Porter Jr. (23 points) and Kelly Oubre Jr. (19 points) led the way as the Wizards improved to 9-3 without John Wall (left knee surgery). 

The highlight stat lines of Embiid (25 points, 10 rebounds) and Ben Simmons (16 points, eight rebounds, eight assists) were outweighed by the team’s overall shooting struggles (36 percent from the field, 27.3 percent from three).

“I think we were never into the game, honestly,” Embiid said. “We didn’t make threes, we didn’t share the ball, we didn’t execute.” 

The season series between the Sixers and Wizards is tied up at two apiece. If they do face off in the playoffs, the Sixers will have to take care of business in Capital One Arena, home-court advantage or not.

“Sometimes it’s hard to explain,” Saric said of the Sixers’ struggles in Washington. “But I think if we play against them in (the) playoffs, I think we can beat them and we can beat them on their court.” 

How Sixers can clinch a playoff spot

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How Sixers can clinch a playoff spot

The Sixers could lock in a playoff spot Saturday night, but their postseason berth does not hinge on whether or not they beat the visiting Timberwolves.

The 41-30 Sixers would clinch if the 32-40 Pistons lose to the 24-48 Bulls. This is a meeting of two struggling teams, both who are 3-7 in their last 10 games and the Bulls are on a four-game losing skid.

The Sixers will have to wait for the results, though. The Pistons and Bulls tip off one hour after the Sixers, who have an early 6 p.m. game.

The Sixers' goal of making the playoffs would not stop with clinching a berth. They have their eyes set on homecourt advantage, a battle that could come down to the final games.

The Sixers currently sit in the fourth spot in a heated competition with the Pacers and Wizards. Keep an eye on how John Wall's health (knee) impacts this race. He practiced five-on-five Saturday.

Who needs Kawhi? Aldridge drops 45 in Spurs' OT win

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Who needs Kawhi? Aldridge drops 45 in Spurs' OT win

SAN ANTONIO -- LaMarcus Aldridge had a career-high 45 points, helping San Antonio overcome Donovan Mitchell's 35-point performance for Utah in the Spurs' 124-120 overtime victory over the Jazz on Friday night.

The Spurs won their sixth straight and beat the Jazz for the first time in four meetings this season.

Utah's 12-game road winning streak came to an end, but only after Mitchell had 14 points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to force overtime.

San Antonio remained sixth in the Western Conference with the same record as fifth-place New Orleans, a half-game behind Oklahoma City for fourth. Utah remained eighth in the West.

After free throws by Spurs guards Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills and a dunk by Jazz center Rudy Gobert put San Antonio up 114-111, Mitchell drained his third 3-pointer of the fourth with 3.6 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Mills, who finished with 23 points, had six points in overtime as the Spurs capped an undefeated six-game homestand.

Pacers use late run to edge Clippers
INDIANAPOLIS -- Bojan Bogdanovic scored 28 points and the Indiana Pacers used a late 9-0 run to hold on for a 109-104 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night, putting them on the precipice of clinching a playoff spot.

The Pacers won for only the second time in five games but can clinch a playoff berth with one more win or a Detroit loss.

Los Angeles' fading playoff aspirations were dealt another blow. The Clippers are now three games behind Utah for the final postseason spot in the Western Conference. Utah was playing later Friday.

Lou Williams led Los Angeles with 27 points and DeAndre Jordan finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds as the Clippers lost for the fifth time in six games (see full recap).

Jokic, Murray lift Nuggets over Wizards
WASHINGTON -- Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray each scored 25 points to keep the Denver Nuggets' playoff hopes alive by beating the Washington Wizards 108-100 on Friday night.

The one-two punch of Jokic and Murray plus outside shooting from Will Barton allowed the Nuggets to withstand a third-quarter charge from the Wizards and maintain their sights on one of the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference. Denver went into the night two games back of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz and shot 50 percent from 3-point territory to stay very much in the race with nine games remaining.

Bradley Beal led Washington with 24 points as it failed to gain ground in a competitive East where five teams are separated in the standings by four games (see full recap).