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Sixers Playoff Scenarios

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The Sixers have stepped over teams in the Eastern Conference of late like Allen Iverson stepped over Tyronn Lue in the 2001 NBA Finals. They are currently the three seed, and with two games to go, the 50-win Sixers will either play Miami, Washington or Milwaukee. If Philly drops to the four spot, it would be Indiana.

The Sixers are currently riding a 14-game winning streak, and are the talk of the basketball universe. At home, fans who were hoping for a mere playoff appearance have started to talk about winning the Eastern Conference. Think about it…Toronto is the top seed, and they haven’t proven anything in the playoffs-ever. They have had a fabulous season, but have been perennial disappointments come postseason time.

The Celtics have been dealt with the Kyrie Irving injury. Their best player will be out for the playoffs. LeBron James is the best player in the world and has been to seven-straight finals. However, this a Cleveland team that the Sixers just beat without Joel Embiid, and the Sixers have a win against the Cavs in Cleveland this year. This is not one of James’ better supporting casts, and people are finally believing that the Eastern crown may be there for the taking.

There is one matter at hand, getting by the first round.

The Sixers have lost just one game in 2018 at home – just one. You know who that was against? It was an Indiana Pacers team that beat the Sixers two of the three times this year. Game 1 was Nov. 3 in Philadelphia, and the Sixers won, 121-110. Game 2 was Feb. 3 in Indianapolis, and the Pacers won, 100-92. Game 3 was March 13th in Philadelphia, and the Pacers won, 101-98. the Pacer win on March 13th was by far the worst game I had ever seen Joel Embiid play. He was tired, a bit lethargic…and was outplayed by Myles Turner. The February 3rd game in Indianapolis featured Lance Stephenson turning into the talented pain-in-the-neck he was years ago, when he was caught on camera blowing in LeBron James’ ear. The Sixers have a better team than the Pacers, and would probably win the series. However, I wouldn’t take for granted that it would be an easy one.

 

Remember hack-a-Ben? That happened November 19th in Philly, when the Wizards cut a huge lead by the Sixers down to single digits with about five minutes left. Scott Brooks, the Wizards coach, ordered the code red on Simmons. Every time he was near a Wizards player, Simmons got fouled. Simmons went 15 of 29 from the line, including 24 attempts in the fourth quarter-an NBA record. Simmons made six of the last eight, and the Sixers escaped with the win. The two teams split the season series. I would guess the Sixers would wear Washington down over a series, but they have a big body in Marcin Gortat,  some amazing shooters-and John Wall back. This would not be an easy one by any means.

@sixerslead ran a twitter poll asking which of the potential first-round matchups fans prefer for the Sixers. Overwhelmingly, Sixers fans preferred to play the Miami Heat. Be careful what you ask for. The two teams split the season series. One game, J.J. Redick missed an open 3-pointer at the buzzer that would’ve won it for the Sixers. Another game, Dwayne Wade’s third with the Heat after being traded back by Cleveland, Wade missed a 3 at the buzzer, which would have won it for Miami. He hit another one in another game. This series, however, is about the big men. Joel Embiid and Hassan Whiteside have had beef on social media in the past, but after the last game between the two, Embiid was very upset. Whiteseide actually outplayed him, and Embiid thought he took a shot at his back that was dirty. this would be good theatre over a series.

Finally, the Milwaukee Bucks. From my perspective, they have the best player of any of the teams the Sixers could play in Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee is up 2-1 in the season series, with a game to go next week. Milwaukee was a different team after the firing of Jason Kidd, firing on all cylinders.   Now they seem to have come back to the pack, and are limping into the playoffs. Milwaukee also has reigning rookie-of-the-year Malcolm Brogdon coming back from injury, which should help. They can be a very dangerous team.

Clearly there are no easy matchups for the Sixers. Can they win against any of these teams? No question. Can they lose to any of these teams? Ultimately, yeah. Playoff basketball and hope are back in Philadelphia for the first time in a long time. Fans need to enjoy the ride and stay realistic. Dare I say, Trust the Process?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Mike Small

Married for 23 years, and a father of four. Currently a Pharmaceutical Sales Leader, and contributor for TLSportsMedia, covering the Philadelphia 76ers and other relevant NBA topics. Previously worked as a television sports anchor in Eastern North Carolina, radio talk show host in Charlotte, North Carolina. Also served as the producer of "The Dean Smith Show", a weekly television show on The University of North Carolina basketball team, and "The Mack Brown Show", a weekly television show on the UNC football team-while doing all of the player features. Wrote a weekly column and articles for Carolina Blue Newspaper. Was also a contributor to, "A Season of Dreams", a book on the 1993 National Champion North Carolina Basketball Team.

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