The Sixers’ pursuit of the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed has come down to the last weekend of the regular season.
For a third time, they’ll be able to clinch the top spot with a victory.
After two road losses, the 47-23 Sixers will face the 21-49 Magic at Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers’ 27-7 home record is best in the East.
Here are the essentials for the Sixers’ penultimate regular-season game Friday night:
- When: 8 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 7:15 p.m.
- Where: Wells Fargo Center
- Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
- Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams app
And here are three storylines to watch:
The day after an ‘ass whooping’
Asked what the Sixers could take away from Thursday’s loss in Miami, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers didn’t search for silver linings.
“We take an ass whooping and then we get out, literally,” he said. “They just beat us in every way. They were better prepared, they played harder, they were more into it. You can’t get it back, so you just move on.”
As has frequently been the case this season, the Sixers’ schedule forces them to move on quickly. Friday’s game will conclude the Sixers’ 14th and final back-to-back set. They’ve gone 7-6 with zero days rest.
Matisse Thybulle (left hand swelling) is out. Joel Embiid, Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton are available after having been listed as probable throughout Friday.
Orlando is also coming off of a game Thursday night, a 116-93 loss to the Hawks. Seven Magic players have been ruled out with injuries, including former Sixers Markelle Fultz, Michael Carter-Williams and James Ennis.
Sixers not facing a juggernaut
Orlando has dropped five consecutive games and 18 of its last 22. The team’s oldest starter against Atlanta was 26-year-old Gary Harris.
Ignas Brazdeikis, a player waived by the Sixers last month, has been in Orlando’s rotation and played 20-plus minutes in each of the past six games. Embiid shot 9 for 16 and scored 21 of his career-high 50 points on Feb. 19 when guarded by Wendell Carter Jr., now a starter for the Magic.
If the Sixers play anywhere near their typical level, they should win. The next NBA draft matters a lot more to the Magic than winning the team’s final two games.
Improvement required on the boards
The Sixers’ 30 rebounds in Miami were a season-low. The Heat grabbed 17 more.
It would be difficult not to have a better rebounding night, although the Sixers will be without Dwight Howard, who picked up his 16th technical foul Thursday night and has officially been suspended for one game without pay.
The 35-year-old Howard’s 17.5 rebounds per 36 minutes lead the NBA. Mike Scott has averaged 5.2 rebounds per 36 minutes this season.