The Pieces Are Falling Into Place For The Sixers
The Philadelphia 76ers have already advanced to the 2nd round of the NBA Playoffs, knocking off the Brooklyn Nets in sweep fashion. The final game of that series was on Saturday, April 22nd, and yet, the Sixers are still the ONLY team to punch their ticket to the next round so far. That’s a major advantage for Philly, especially considering that Joel Embiid is nursing a knee injury. The Western Conference isn’t overly important right now, but the East, of course, is where the Sixers’ focus lies. The more the home conference for Philly unfolds, the more favorable it looks for Embiid and company. Thanks to the Atlanta Hawks stealing a game from the Boston Celtics, the earliest a series would start between the winner of that series and the Sixers would be Saturday, April 29th, which would give the Sixers plenty of rest before having to start the 2nd round. There’s another Eastern Conference contender that might get even more rest than that, though.
The Milwaukee Bucks – the 1 seed in the Eastern Conference – might have themselves a couple of months off if things continue the way they have so far in their 1st round matchup with the Miami Heat. The Heat won again on Monday night, taking a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Bucks and pushing the top seed to the edge of elimination.
#HEATWin Round 1 Game 4 final – Miami 119, Milwaukee 114
🔥 Butler: 56pts (career-high) & 9rebs
🔥 Adebayo: 15pts & 8rebs
🔥 Martin: 12pts & 9rebs
🔥 Vincent: 10pts & 8asts pic.twitter.com/v5ppfq8MFP
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) April 25, 2023
In NBA history, only 13 teams have ever overcome a 3-1 deficit. 258 have failed to do so, giving the Bucks about a 4.8% chance to reach the 2nd round this year. That means that the most likely matchup opposite of Philadelphia and Boston is now the New York Knicks vs. the Miami Heat. Clearly it isn’t a foregone conclusion considering what is happening between Milwaukee and Miami, but it’s not hard to look at those 2 probable series and say that the winner of Boston-Philly will be the heavy favorite to win the East.
Now, this doesn’t make the Sixers’ matchup with Boston much easier, even with the extra rest that the Sixers are getting as Atlanta fights for their playoff lives. The Celtics are still an incredibly talented team, and they’ve had the Sixers’ number for what feels like eternity. And, even with a week to heal, Joel Embiid’s knee sprain is still something that will weigh on the minds of Sixers fans everywhere. It’s not going to be a walk in the park, but, in poetic justice fashion, if the Sixers exorcise the demons of 2nd round exits, it could lead to a very clear path to a championship. There’s still a long way to go, but the road is already clearing itself. The pieces are falling into place for the Sixers, now they just have to take advantage.