It’s officially official: The Sixers have clinched the Eastern Conference’s third seed with the Celtics’ loss to the Magic Sunday night.
Unlike last season when the team won its last 16 games on its way to the three seed, the Sixers have kind of limped to the finish line. With Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler both missing time, it looked like the team was just kind of coasting until the postseason.
But hey, Brett Brown and company got the job done. Brown has had to manage what feels like three different teams. In 10 games as the fully functioning “Sixers 3.0,” the team is 8-2. Is that sample size a preview of what we’ll see in the postseason? Stay tuned.
So what will the team do now with Embiid and Butler with two games left to play? Embiid played 27 minutes Saturday night in Chicago. Butler hasn’t played in the last two games. Beyond the actual injuries, the biggest concern will be their fitness level — especially with Embiid.
With the Nets’ win over the Pacers Sunday night, Brooklyn has punched its ticket to the playoffs and is currently in the driver’s seat to play the Sixers in the first round as the sixth seed. Orlando could still leapfrog the Nets with a game to play, but with both teams at 41-40, Brooklyn holds the tiebreaker after winning the season series.
Both teams have given the Sixers trouble at times this season. They split four games with each team. The Nets have gone through a gauntlet to close out the season while the Magic have been one of the best teams in the league since the All-Star break.
But after sleepwalking through the last couple weeks of the regular season, expect a different Sixers team this coming weekend.
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