With their impressive victory over the Indiana Pacers in South Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, the Sixers took control of the third seed in the top-heavy Eastern Conference, and in order to give themselves the best possible shot at playoff success this season, it is imperative that they hold on to that spot.

By securing the third seed, the Sixers would accomplish several things:

  • They would lock up homecourt advantage for the first round (at least). Considering how loud and supportive the crowd in Philadelphia is, the more home games that the Sixers can play in the postseason, the better.
  • They would set up a playoff path of least resistance, in which they would potentially only have to face off against two of the East’s other top teams (Bucks, Raptors, Celtics. Pacers), as opposed to facing off against one of those teams in three consecutive series, as the fourth/fifth-seeded team may have to.
  • Avoid playing the top-seeded team in the conference until the conference finals.

The Sixers – at the behest of Brett Brown - largely abide by the old adage of “beat who is in front of you,” but that doesn’t mean that the importance of securing the third seed – and thus securing a more favorable path to the conference finals, and potentially the NBA Finals – is lost on the team, as evidenced by Joel Embiid making sure that he was available for the match-up with the Pacers despite missing the previous eight contests with a sore knee.

"We're fighting for the third seed over here,” Embiid said to media members after the game. “We're fighting for homecourt advantage. I just felt like this game was really important and if it was just for me to come back, play this game, and miss a couple I would have been fine with it. But I just felt like I had to play this game, just to make sure we were in good position."

The Sixers last regular season game is on April 10, and their main objective between now and then – in addition to growing chemistry and sharpening rotations – should be holding on to the three seed.

 

Follow Michael Kaskey-Blomain on Twitter @therealmikekb.