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Who is the best option for the Sixers in the first round?

With playoffs clinched it’s time to look at who would be the best fit for the Sixers opponent in the first round.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Philadelphia 76ers John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia is on the verge of taking over the sports world, it started with the Eagles winning the Super Bowl, and now it’s the Sixers time to carry the torch of success into the NBA playoffs. With nine games left in the season and a seven game winning streak going on right now, the team is entrenched in the middle seeds of the Eastern Conference and are now looking at potential opponents once the time comes. A very winnable rest of the season could propel the Sixers as high as the 3rd seed, or at least keep them in position to have home court advantage in a playoff series for the first time since 2003.

The Pacers are right on the Sixers tail at the moment, only a half game separating the 4 and 5 seeds, but their remaining schedule is much harder than the Sixers, as they have 3 games against top playoff teams (Warriors x2, Raptors), as well as a game against a team fighting for their playoff lives in the Denver Nuggets. On the Sixers side, in their final 9 games they play 7 games against teams under .500, so the 3rd seed is a possibility with how bunched up the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture is. The amount of teams so close to each other not only effects what seed the Sixers will get, but also which teams will move up/down in the standings, meaning the Sixers don’t have one clear target in mind for the playoffs.

Each of the four teams below the Sixers in the standings have a legitimate chance at playing Philadelphia in the first round, but the question remains, who would make the best choice for a first round opponent?

The fans have spoken, and it seems that the surprising Indiana Pacers would be the Sixers best choice to move on to the second round. Going into the year no one would have believed the Pacers would be in the position they are now, especially after trading Paul George. With role players stepping up and budding star Victor Oladipo playing the most inspired basketball of his career, they have taken advantage of a very shallow Eastern Conference. In three games against each other this season the Sixers have struggled against Indiana, going 1-2 and regularly looking perplexed by the Pacer defense, failing to reach the 100 point mark twice. Even with the struggles, I do believe the Sixers match up well against the Pacers, especially if Philadelphia has home court advantage. The battle of two of the best young big men in the NBA would be a sight to see, but Joel Embiid should take that matchup over Myles Turner, couple that with the defense of Ben Simmons on the Pacers top scorer Victor Oladipo and the amount of scorers the Sixers have, I feel pretty confident in a series win. The Pacers are 5th seed right now for a reason, this matchup wouldn’t be a cake walk, but a Sixers series win in 6 games is very realistic.

With everything coming up Philly lately I would love to see the Miami Heat make a late season run to possibly (hopefully) set up a playoff matchup with the Sixers. I need an Embiid vs Whiteside playoff battle more than I need air to breathe. It seems unlikely but hey, one can dream right?

The two teams that the Sixers should hope to avoid are the Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks, both teams have superstars that can take over a game and steal a few games away from their home in order to get a series win. While I believe the Sixers can handle both of these teams, I also believe they are much less likely to win a long series against either of them. John Wall should be returning soon for the Wizards and the Bucks boast a great group of young players headlined by Giannis Antetokounmpo. The records of these teams might not be as pretty as many people believed they would be before the season, but don’t be fooled, these are dangerous squads.

For the first time in six years the Philadelphia 76ers will be in the playoffs, and have a strong chance at making some serious noise. The playoffs are a completely different animal from what the regular season is like, but from the viewpoint of the rabid Sixer fan, whoever they play the Sixers will be ready, and the voice of the fans say they want that team to be the Indiana Pacers.

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