The Sixers Have a Clear Runway to the Postseason
We are finally approaching the end of one of the most hectic NBA seasons in history. The Sixers find themselves knocking on the door of the Eastern Conference's top seed and are a favorite to appear in the NBA finals.
After going on a four-game losing streak, things started to look hazy for the Sixers. They got bit by the injury bug and found themselves going through a rough stretch of opponents.
The Sixers have gotten back to their winning ways. They currently ride a three-game winning streak, with each win coming in blowout fashion. This hot streak has them just half a game behind the conference-leading Brooklyn Nets.
Finishing atop the conference is something the team has constantly said is their goal. But going into the postseason healthy remains the top priority. Luckily for the Sixers, they have a golden opportunity to do both.
With just nine games to go in the regular season, the Sixers find themselves with the easiest remaining schedule in the NBA. Of those nine games, only two are against teams that currently sit at .500 or better.
Their biggest challenge is scheduling. Six of these games will be back-to-backs, leaving room for fatigue to kick in. That being said, every remaining matchup is winnable for the Sixers.
Not only are these matchups winnable, but opens the door for what Doc Rivers calls "old-school load management." Most of these teams are no longer competing at this point in the season. The Sixers need to take advantage of that.
Sixers' Remaining Schedule
Spurs: 31-31 (.500)
Bulls: 26-38 (.406)
Rockets: 16-48 (.250)
Pelicans: 29-35 (.453)
Pistons: 19-45 (.297)
Pacers: 30-33 (.476)
Heat: 34-30 (.531)
Magic X2: 20-44 (.313)
Putting teams down early and getting the starters off their feet early is crucial at this point in the season. Due to their recent blowout wins, no Sixers' starter has had to play over 25 minutes per game over their last three. That added rest will prove to be beneficial come postseason.
The other reason they need to make the most of this opportunity is the standings. If the Sixers can go on a run to close the season, it should almost guarantee them the number one seed. This not only gives them homecourt advantage in the playoffs but makes their road much easier.
Finishing as the one seed means they will not have to see the Bucks or Nets in a series until the conference finals. It will also force those two teams to square off in the second round before matching up with the Sixers.
This season has the potential to finish similarly to the 2017-2018 campaign, where Ben Simmons led the team to a 16-game winning streak to close the regular season.
Remaining focused needs to be a point of emphasis for the Sixers in these final weeks. Although they are facing easier opponents, they cannot afford to overlook any games.
The Sixers have a chance to go into the postseason well-rested, with momentum, and the top seed in the conference. They can't let an opportunity like this go to waste.