The Philadelphia 76ers won their fifth straight game Thursday night, a 118-98 laugher over the Orlando Magic. It could’ve been much worse, as the Sixers rested their starters late in the third quarter. They’d done the same the night before in a 119-105 rout of the the Grizzlies. Joel Embiid played just 20 minutes in each of those games.
The Sixers are now 41-30, a win away from clinching their first playoff spot since 2012. They’re currently the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference; if they hold on to a top-four slot, it’ll be the first time since 2003 that the team had home court advantage in a playoff round.
The Sixers were 25-25 on Feb. 3, and they’ve been on quite a run since. The fans even ate 8,238 free hot dogs on Wednesday night. Everything’s going right! Philly could even catch the Cavaliers for the third seed in the east.
This was expected, actually. Here’s a blog post from October pointing out how easy the schedule is down the stretch. Even when the Sixers were .500, it was obvious they were going to pick up a ton of wins in March and April against the NBA’s tank lords. Look at their remaining slate: vs. Minnesota, vs. Denver, vs. New York, at Atlanta, at Charlotte, vs. Brooklyn, at Detroit, vs. Cleveland, vs. Dallas, at Atlanta, vs. Milwaukee.
There are only three playoff teams on that remaining schedule, and they’re all at home. One is in the last game of the season! The toughest road game remaining is against the current No. 9 seed in the East, the dreadful Pistons. They get to play 21-51 Atlanta twice down the stretch. Seven of their 22 final games are against the Nets and Hornets alone! The Sixers have 11 games left; even if they continue to throw the ball to the other team at an alarming rate, they should approach 48 wins or so. Maybe they’ll even win 50!