By Dylan MacKinnon
The Sixers came into the night with a great chance to improve their seeding. The Bucks and Celtics were playing each other, meaning with a win the Sixers would surpass the loser. They could not take advantage though. They fell 119-114. The Sixers are now potentially set up to face the team that just beat them in a 7 game series in the first round of the Playoffs.
That matchup would cause several problems for the Sixers. For one the Raptors seem to have this team’s number. Dating back to 2019, they are 11-7 vs the Sixers, counting the playoff round they won 4-3. Additionally, Matisse Thybulle will as of now be unavailable for any games in Toronto. He is reportedly unvaccinated. Anyone traveling into Canada is required to have at least two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Alternatively, they can get one dose of Johnson and Johnson. At least 14 days must have passed since your final dose before you are eligible to travel to Canada. So even if Thybulle gets the shot now, he will not be able to travel to Toronto until April 22nd at the earliest.
The Sixers facing the Raptors is not set in stone. With the Celtics losing to the Bucks, the Sixers remain just a .5 game back from them. If the Sixers can win their final two games vs the Pistons and Pacers, and the Celtics lose their season finale vs the Grizzlies, the Sixers would move into the 3 seed. But if the Sixers only win one, or the Celtics win their game, it would be a tie. The Celtics hold the tiebreaker over the Sixers with a better division record.
They are now a full game back from the Bucks. The Sixers would need to both win out and have the Bucks lose out if they want the 2 seed. The 3 seed may be the most ideal matchup. It would currently pit them against the Bulls who they swept this season. The 2 seed would face the winner of the Play in Tournament. That could be the Nets.
Additionally, after they failed to improve their seeding, there is a small chance they can fall to the 5 seed. If the Raptors win out, and the Sixers lose out, the Raptors would surpass the Sixers. Meaning not only would they play the Raptors in the first round, but they would lose the home-court advantage. Thybulle would miss 4 out of the 7 games in that case.
The Sixers get Friday off. They close their season facing the Pacers on Saturday at 1, and then the Pistons Sunday night.