The Philadelphia 76ers wrapped up the three seed this weekend by virtue of Boston’s loss to Orlando. That loss, combined with a Brooklyn win over Indiana, gives us a 4/5 matchup between the Celtics and Pacers in round one of the playoffs.
The Sixers’ opponent is not determined as of 9 a.m. on Monday morning. You might have been hoping to avoid Brooklyn in the first round, but the Nets got past a Giannis-less Bucks team on the road before dispatching Indy to hold firm to the six seed with two games remaining.
Here’s how the Eastern Conference looks right now:
This is a little less than ideal, because Brooklyn and Orlando are probably the trickier first round matchups than Detroit, Charlotte, or Miami.
Here’s the remaining schedule for each of those teams, and a few thoughts on possible opponents, after the jump:
- Brooklyn: vs Miami
- Orlando: at Charlotte
- Detroit: vs Memphis, at New York
- Charlotte: at Cleveland, vs Orlando
- Miami: vs Philadelphia, at Brooklyn
Miami and Charlotte cannot win the 6th seed. Even if they win both remaining games, they still finish 40-42 and behind Brooklyn and Orlando. We can cross them off the list and continue with two easy scenarios right here:
- If Brooklyn wins and Orlando loses, the Sixers play the Nets
- If Orlando wins and Brooklyn loses, the Sixers play the Magic
In this case the 6th seed would finish 42-40 and there’s no way for the Pistons to match them.
It gets interesting if you have a tiebreaker situation with these teams.
If the Magic and Nets both tie:
The Nets win the tiebreaker because they won the season series against the Magic, 2-1.
If the Magic, Nets, and Pistons all finish at 41-41:
Orlando wins the sixth seed as the Southeast Division leader. In the second tiebreaker, Brooklyn wins the season series 2-1 over Detroit, so they would be the seventh seed. The Pistons earn the 8th spot.
That’s pretty much it for scenarios, which means the Sixers can only play the Nets or Magic in the first round. Miami has lost four straight while Charlotte and Orlando are both on three-game win streaks, so I’d put my money on Brooklyn beating the Heat in their finale, finishing 42-40, and getting Philly in the first round. However, if the Sixers rest their starters in Miami and give the Heat an easy win, they might have something to play for when they finish up in Brooklyn. That’s something to think about, though Miami might be eliminated by the time that game takes place. They need a lot of things to go their way.
You might be a little worried about going up against the Brooklyn guards. The Sixers split with Brooklyn this season, beating the Nets on the road with a buzzer-beater and then thrashing them two weeks ago on the tail-end of a seven-game road trip. If nothing else, it should be a referendum on the Sixers’ pick and roll and perimeter defense, which has been subpar this year. I do, however, love Joel Embiid in this series, since I don’t think the combination of Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis can offer enough resistance to keep him from scoring 25+ per game.
Also keep in mind that this is brand new territory for the Nets, who would come to Philly with virtually no playoff experience. Homecourt advantage and more talent across the board I’d think would get the Sixers past the Nets in 6 or 7 games. I think Orlando is a better matchup for Philly, but I’m pretty confident a full-strength team will be fine against Brooklyn.