The NBA All-Star weekend has officially concluded, and even though there is still some downtime before the Sixers take the floor again, it’s time to zone in on the home stretch of the season. With 24 games remaining for Philly (21-25 for other teams), the collective eyes of the association have turned to playoff seeding. The Western Conference may be short on drama considering the sizeable lead the Phoenix Suns have on the field, but the East is the opposite of that. The Heat and Bulls are tied for the 1 seed, the Sixers, Cavs, and Bucks are all 2.5 games back, and there are a couple of other teams – the Celtics, Raptors, and of course the Nets – that could still make noise down the stretch. These teams are close in the standings, but unfortunately for some, the NBA schedule is not created equal. Luckily, though, for the team that we care about, the remaining strength of schedule shows a coming opportunity in Philadelphia.

Let’s start with the Sixers, who currently hold the 3 seed in the East by way of a tie break. According to our old process friend, Philly holds the 12th toughest schedule in the NBA the rest of the way. It’s not the cakewalk that the Eagles enjoyed to end their season, or that the Phillies should have enjoyed to end theirs, but it isn’t overly difficult either. Not great, not bad. They should be able to handle their business and win something around 16-18 of their final 24. The Miami Heat, who hold the 1 seed by tie break, have the 16th toughest schedule, making their road comparable to the Sixers. They won’t be easy to track down, but with only 2.5 games of difference, it’s certainly possible. This is where things get interesting, though. The Chicago Bulls are tied in record with the Heat at the top of the conference, but they have the second toughest record in the NBA the rest of the way. The Bulls already seem like a bit of a paper tiger despite DeMar DeRozan’s incredible season, so it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see Chicago slip as low as 6 or even into the play in tournament in the East when everything is all said in done. The Sixers should finish above them, and they should also be ahead of a team Joel Embiid and company just took care of prior to the All-Star break.

The Milwaukee Bucks are the defending NBA champions, but they hold the toughest strength of schedule in the NBA over their final 22 games. It’s a tough draw for the Bucks, but doesn’t necessarily resign them to the middle of the pack. It does, however, make the Sixers road to a top 2 seed easier. The Cleveland Cavaliers have been a surprise this year, with a young explosive roster led by Jarett Allen and Darius Garland, but they’re very inexperienced. They have the 22nd toughest schedule, making their home stretch manageable, but their youth could show down the stretch. Toronto and Atlanta both have final stretches that are among the 7 easiest schedules in the NBA, so they could potentially make some noise as well, but at 5.0 and 9.5 games back respectively, it’ll be tough to catch the top teams in the East. The bottom line is that most of the teams the Sixers are competing with, outside of Miami, are either trailing them or have a tougher schedule the rest of the way. It’s a lucky set up, and with the addition of James Harden, one that could very realistically lead to a second straight 1 seed for Philly. Even if they only make it into the top 2 seeds, home court advantage will be huge in the first 2 rounds. So thank you, NBA schedule gods, for blessing Philly with what looks like an advantageous situation. Now, it’s just up to the Sixers to go take advantage of it.