After clinching first place in the Eastern Conference for the first time in 20 years Friday night in a win over Orlando, the Sixers will play out the string in tonight’s regular season finale against those same Magic. From Philadelphia’s perspective, tonight’s outcome means very little. The only possible ramification of a win would be clinching home-court advantage in a potential NBA Finals matchup against Denver (as things currently stand, the Nuggets are one-game back, holding the tiebreaker; the Sixers also lead the Clippers by one game, but already hold the tiebreaker).
Meanwhile, the Magic, losers of six straight, have plenty of potential lottery implications in tonight’s game. They are tied or separated by just one game with Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota, and Oklahoma City. Every loss counts to gain those all-important ping pong ball number combinations. So we have one team tonight basically ambivalent about winning and one team highly incentivized to lose. Should make for some thrilling basketball!
The Sixers have listed seven players on the injury report tonight, with Tobias Harris the only starter not on the list. The other four starters, as well as Furkan Korkmaz (ankle), Shake Milton (knee), and Matisse Thybulle (hand) are all either probable or questionable. Matisse hasn’t played since injuring his hand last Saturday against Detroit, so it would be very surprising to see him return for this finale. As for the other rotation regulars, any that do play will likely get in some conditioning work before hitting the sidelines much earlier than usual. Expect plenty of minutes for Tyrese Maxey, Paul Reed, and the Blue Coats brigade. Anthony Tolliver, if you want to attempt another 13 shots to get your second bucket as a Sixer, now’s the time.
Luckily for Sixers fans, we have a wealth of experience watching young guys play in games that don’t mean anything for the playoffs. Put on your favorite 2016 outfit and let’s root for the Sixers to come away from tonight healthy and ready to start their long playoff run next weekend.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Orlando Magic
When: 7:00 pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic