Let’s take a look at the NBA standings after the Sixers muscled their way to a come-from-behind win against the Miami Heat on Thursday night:

It’s right there. The six seed is within reach. We’re going into the home stretch pragmatically and with an open mind.

Why? Because Joel Embiid is back. Tyrese Maxey is back. You’ve got guys like Kelly Oubre Jr. going absolutely berserk in the fourth quarter, sending Jimmy Butler to the weight room. Doc Rivers is long gone and Nick Nurse running the show. You’re getting good minutes from guys like Cam Payne and Paul Reed. Kyle Lowry is settling in. Buddy Hield will start hitting again. Mostly everything is trending upward, depending on how you feel about Tobias Harris. They’re getting the big guns healthy at the right time and they just gutted out two consecutive fourth quarter wins against playoff teams. There was a lot of mettle shown against OKC and Miami.

Here’s the remaining schedule for each team fighting for the 6 seed:

  • Sixers: at Grizzlies, at Spurs, vs. Pistons, vs. Magic, vs. Nets
  • Pacers: vs. Thunder, vs. Heat, at Raptors, at Cavs, vs. Hawks
  • Heat: at Rockets, at Pacers, at Hawks, vs. Mavs, vs. Raptors, vs. Raptors

It’s not a murderer’s row for anyone, but Memphis/San Antonio is a road-road back-to-back for the Sixers, and Embiid is reconditioning.

Indy has to play an OKC team fighting for the #1 seed, then they get Miami at home and Cleveland on the road. Atlanta is in kind of a weird spot because they’ve already clinched the play-in berth and can only jockey for 9/10 seeding with Chicago, but they technically do have something to play for.

The Heat get Dallas down the stretch, but Indy is the only other playoff team they still have to face. They’re going to have to slip up at some point and drop a couple of games to allow the Sixers to jump ahead.

And even then, the 7 seed wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. I’ll take home court in a single game against Indiana or Miami with a chance to set up a first-round matchup with the Bucks or Cavs. Ask yourself if you’re truly scared of going up against Doc in the playoffs, or a Cavs team that has played average basketball since the calendar flipped to March. The Sixers would have very little pressure going into that kind of series as the plucky lower seed. As long as you can avoid Boston in round one, you have to feel pretty good about April, especially after the slog of the last two months.

Get back on the bandwagon. Sixers and Flyers both. It’s the home stretch.