The NBA recently released the 8-game “seeding” schedule for each team as we approach the restart at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando.
The Sixers have lucked out with a decently easy schedule, though it could be more difficult than most fans think. They currently sit 6th in the East with a 39-26 record, so this 8-game stretch is vital for not only building momentum, but also earning a good position in the playoffs.
Let’s breakdown the schedule, and the most likely outcome for the 76ers in the coming 8-game stretch.
While they start off with Indiana, it seems the first half of games are much more forgiving than the final two against Houston and Toronto. This could be the biggest perk of the schedule—with opponents like San Antonio, Washington, Orlando, Portland, and Phoenix; Brett Brown and company have time to settle into a rhythm before they find themselves in a playoff series.
Obviously the toughest matchups come against Toronto and Houston to close out the “seeding” portion of what’ll be a strange finish to the season.
The team that scares me most of this entire stretch is Toronto. I know, they don’t have Kawhi anymore, but they could be the most consistent team in the league in terms of depth and production. It feels like the Raptors have continually had the Sixers’ number, even before the heartbreaking shot last season.
Playing them (and Houston) in two of the three nights before we transition to a playoff series is nerve-wracking from a workload standpoint, and because this team needs to develop some chemistry heading into the playoffs they don’t really have the luxury of putting guys on ice without risk.
The Pacers are a team that concerns me more than most. As of right now, they’re seeded ahead of the Sixers with the same number of wins. However, Embiid sat out the past couple times these teams matched up. This will be the most vital part of this 8-game stretch, as the Sixers need at least five wins to prove they’re ready to compete with the league’s best in the postseason.
The Sixers have much to prove, and with Brett Brown’s job on the line, expect this core to throw everything they have out there. The social media chatter has Ben and Embiid seemingly in the best shape they could be to resume, fans can only hope that it comes to fruition. This playoff format at the very least should be entertaining, and if this 76ers squad can come out motivated, they have as good a chance as any contender.
Final Prediciton: 5-3 going into round 1.