Now THAT is how you end the regular season in style. A 130-95 win over the Milwaukee Bucks clinched the third seed in the Eastern Conference for the Philadelphia 76ers, and they now know they will play the Heat in the first round of the playoffs. Add in that the win was the 16th in a row, and the Sixers have the most momentum of any team in the NBA heading into postseason play.
Ending the season 52-30, the Sixers have far exceeded everyone’s expectations. This game felt like much more than just a normal basketball game, yes playoff implications were on the line, but it felt more like a celebration of the accomplishments of the season as a whole. Playing without both Embiid and J.J. Redick (lower back tightness in pregame), the Sixers didn’t show any ill effects of not having two of their top scorers. Ben Simmons was off, yet he was still able to control the offensive pace, push when necessary, and give his teammates opportunities both inside the lane and out.
The leading scorer for the Sixers tonight ended up being, yeah you guessed it, Justin Anderson with his 25 points off of the bench, followed by the guy who will never come over, Dario Saric with 24 of his own. Everyone was on tonight, with the exception of Ben Simmons only scoring 4 and Robert Covington passing up on a lot of shots, only ending with 5. But the real story on the Sixers side, MARKELLE FULTZ HAD THE MOST LOWKEY TRIPLE DOUBLE OF ALL TIME. Ending with a line of 13-10-10, Fultz has looked fresh since coming back and has the chance to play a large role as the backup point guard for the playoffs.
To be honest, the game felt like a blowout from the very start, the Sixers scored 46 points in the first 12 minutes of the game and the Bucks couldn’t make anything. Giannis Antetokounmpo clearly wasn’t at full strength, but was held in check for most of the night, only scoring 10 in 22 minutes, so it was Jabari Parker who had to step up, scoring 25 in 24 minutes off of the bench. This wasn’t the best showing for the Bucks right before the playoffs start (anyone else believe they blew it so they could avoid Philly in the first round?), but don’t get things confused, Milwaukee has the potential to play the role of dark horse.
All in all this was the perfect way to end the season, the team seems to be getting stronger as the season has gone on, and they have a chance to make some real noise not just this year, but for a long time to come. With Joel Embiid ready to return soon and Ben Simmons learning how to run the offense on his own, this combo is ready to dominate very soon.
- Justin Anderson needs to be in the playoff rotation, he brings too much energy off of the bench as well as a scoring punch to be overlooked.
- Dario Saric had a nice bounce back game after looking a little rusty from his few games out. Getting him going before the playoffs started was very important and he did exactly that.
- Ben Simmons picked up two quick fouls to start the game, while it may not indicate what will happen in the playoffs, I think the refs could give Simmons a tougher time while driving to the lane.
- Richaun Holmes has given the team some nice energy minutes off of the bench since Embiid went down. He may not be impactful on defense, but he does enough on offense to help cover up the hole left by Embiid.
- The Sixers shot 15-36 from three point range tonight without J.J. Redick, nice to see them find a presence from outside without their best shooter.
- Is anyone else ready for some playoff basketball? I already feel ready to run through a brick wall.