After soundly defeating the Atlanta Hawks by a score of 127-83, the Philadelphia 76ers have made their future presence in the playoffs official. While the team’s playoff destiny hasn’t ever been in doubt during this regular season, an easy victory over another team bound for the Eastern Conference playoffs is an encouraging sign for a Sixers team that has struggled as of late.
The Sixers amassed a quick lead in this contest and as a result were able to rest many of their starters down the stretch. Simmons, who got in some early foul trouble, only played 16 minutes total. No starter played more than 26 minutes. Meanwhile, six different players scored in double digits including rookie Tyrese Maxey who poured in 11 points on 5-6 shooting from the field.
The Hawks never really had a chance in this game. Part of that was due to their depleted roster as key contributors such as Trae Young (ankle), Bogdan Bogdanovic (hamstring), and Kevin Huerter (shoulder) all didn’t play. Forward John Collins was easily their most productive player of the night, going for 21 points on an efficient 8-11 from the field.
“We’re not celebrating for clinching the playoffs” noted Tobias Harris after the game, “…this is Philadelphia basketball, where greatness is expected from our fans and us as a group.”. Embiid echoed his teammate’s statement and made the group’s mission clear. “Coming into the season, our goal was to win a championship.”
The Sixers become the second team, behind the Brooklyn Nets, to secure a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They currently trail the Nets in the standings by one game with ten games remaining for each squad. It is quite probable that Philadelphia will finish the regular season as either the number one or two seed, which means their first round opponent will remain a mystery until the conclusion of the play-in tournament. The Eastern Conference standings remain incredibly tight but as it stands now those play-in teams figure to be the Heat, Hornets, Pacers, and Wizards.