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Bucks, Nets, Sixers in Eastern Conference Standings race: Friday night seed watching

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Garden Club Maintains Public Garden In Pennsylvania Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Remember the days not terribly long ago when you were rooting for the Sixers to improve their lottery standings? In 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 you may have been cheering on your favorite players, but you probably didn’t mind the end results come May when the Sixers would finish with top picks. If you were really a nut about it like me, you’d monitor sites like Matthew Hoover’s Tankathon.com and cheer against the Sixers, while cheering for their top bottom-dwelling comps like the Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, or Los Angeles Lakers on a nightly basis.

Well here are Doc Rivers’ Sixers with a .661 winning percentage (which would put the Sixers on pace for 54 wins in a typical 82 game season, just one shy of the 55 win mark Sam Hinkie used to talk about trying to hit). It’s darn good. And if there had been a more spaced-out schedule, who knows, their winning percentage might be even stronger.

This year has been like trying to record your best 40-yard dash time while wearing a pair of sopping wet shoes and socks (shout out RTRS pod hosting Joel Embiid).

The Sixers host the wounded Hawks tonight. As of this writing, per Rotowire.com there are quite a few last-minute decisions on the slate for Atlanta:

The Sixers need to mind their own business and focus on playing their brand of basketball, which means locking all windows and doors, as Philadelphia boasts the third overall defense (allowing 108.1 points per 100 possessions).

But you have the luxury of keeping a close watch on this heart of mine on the NBA scoreboard. The Brooklyn Nets hold a 1.5 game lead in the standings, but playing on their second leg of a back-to-back tonight, they’ve ruled out some key players as they look to host a well-rested and healthy Blazers squad.

The game has important implications for the race for the 1 seed and Portland is favored:

Kyrie Irving, got a night off yesterday as Kevin Durant put on a fireworks display, dropping a staggering 42 points and 10 assists on the injury-plagued Pacers.

With the Nets opting for caution, they will rest Durant this evening and Irving will fill in. Even though the trio of James Harden (out with a significant hamstring issue), Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have only logged 186 minutes, the Nets have a .683 win percentage. That would put them on pace for 56 wins in an 82 game season. That certainly smells like a 70+ win team if they were ever fully healthy.

As of now, the Blazers are favored in the matchup. It would be huge for the Sixers if Portland pulled off a road win.

Then there are the Bucks, who sit 4.5 games behind the Nets and 3 behind the Sixers. Their duo of Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday both played big minutes in a crazy game in Houston, where former Buck Kevin Porter Jr. dropped 50 in a “revenge game.”

(The Sixers have to play their second of a back to back in the near future against KPj in Houston and that suddenly feels a little scary, especially if not every one of their stars suits up).

Giannis Antetokounmpo rolled an ankle in the game’s early moments and didn’t return in their important loss. Will the Bucks, who have two games coming against the Nets, push to try to improve their seeding or will they prioritize health and accept the third seed? It would benefit the Sixers if they won at least one of those contests on Sunday and Tuesday vs. Brooklyn.

Keep an eye on Sixers-Hawks, Nets-Blazers, and Bucks-Bulls as well as the NFL Draft.