Welcome to Run It Back! In this weekly series, we will summarize the week overall and recap each Sixers game from the previous week (Sunday to Sunday).
The regular season wrapped up this week and it ended in a pretty fun way for the Sixers (just pretend Thursday’s game vs. the Miami Heat didn’t happen), especially the depth players.
In what was their last somewhat meaningful game of the season hosting the Boston Celtics, Joel Embiid capped off his MVP-caliber regular season dropping 52 points on the visitors in the Sixers’ victory. On Wednesday, the Sixers officially locked in the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, rendering the rest of the remaining regular season games almost entirely meaningless for Philadelphia.
It showed on Thursday night against the Miami Heat, in the ugliest way possible. The Sixers were destroyed 129-101 by the Heat in their last home game of the regular season at the Wells Fargo Center. No reason to go deeper into this one. Many fans may have given up watching the regular season after this performance, and I can’t exactly blame them, but they missed two extremely fun games to wrap it up.
The starters sat the remainder of the week, leaving a mixture of G Leaguers and bench players to lead the way for the last two games. And what an enjoyable last few games it was. With their starters resting, Philadelphia defeated the Atlanta Hawks and the Brooklyn Nets on Friday and Sunday, respectively, to finish the regular season at 54-28, their highest win total since the 2000-01 season.
The Sixers will get some time off this week as the play-in games commence. Game 1 of their first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets will take place on Saturday, April 15, at 1 p.m. ET in South Philadelphia.
Result: W, 103-101
Bell Ringer: Joel Embiid
The Sixers just snuck by the Boston Celtics 103-101 in their final faceoff of the regular season on Tuesday night.
This was Embiid vs. the Celtics for the most part, honestly, and Embiid did more than hold his own. He dropped a massive 52 points on the Eastern Conference rivals, pulling in 13 boards and putting up two blocks. Yes, 52 of the Sixers’ total 103 points.
Unfortunately, the lack of depth in Sixers’ production was a theme throughout. It was really left almost all up to Embiid. Don’t get me wrong, watching Embiid go to work like he did Tuesday night is a privilege, but it would have been nice for him to have some help in this one. Harden was his only assistance to speak of, really, with 20 points in support. Had there been more — or any — contributions from the rest of the lineup, this game might not have been nearly as competitive.
Competitive is definitely the word. The Sixers almost lost this game five different ways in the last few seconds. This matchup is a potential playoff preview, and it sure felt like it. If both teams win their respective first-round series, they’ll meet in the playoffs for the third time in six years.
Miami Heat at Sixers
Result: L, 129-101
Bell Ringer: Delaware Blue Coats
The Sixers were destroyed 129-101 by the Miami Heat in their last home game of the regular season at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Sixers looked like a team already locked in to their seed for the playoffs, in the worst way possible. They committed four traveling violations and allowed the Heat 41 points (six triples) in the first frame. The visitors led by 10 at that point and it got uglier from there. The Sixers got cooked from long range (11 Heat triples in the half) and the Heat led by 21 points at the break. Yes, the Heat, 27th in three-point percentage prior to this contest, hit 11 triples in the first half. It was one of those nights.
And it continued to be one of those nights. The Sixers starters played the third frame before sitting for most of the last period of this contest — though calling it a “contest” is giving it too much credit.
The Sixers starters mostly played this game like it didn’t matter to them, and, frankly, they were kind of right. It meant way more to the Heat who were fighting for a guaranteed playoff spot than to the Sixers already locked into their playoff seed. It wasn’t a pretty one, but fans shouldn’t analyze this one too much.
Also, the Delaware Blue Coats won their first NBA G League Championship the same night. Lose some, win some.
Sixers at Atlanta Hawks
Result: W, 136-131 OT
Bell Ringer: Jaden Springer
If you watched Thursday’s ugly game and said “well, I’ve seen enough until playoffs,” that’s frankly understandable. However, you missed two extremely fun games to close out the season on a high note for the depth of the Sixers’ squad.
The Sixers’ seeding was set, which meant this (and the next) game had the same importance of a preseason game. Almost all of the Sixers’ best players were out for this one, allowing Jaden Springer and Mac McClung to get some much deserved shine. For Atlanta, it meant much more — as they were battling for play-in standing.
So, naturally, the expected result is the Sixers’ G Leaguers and bench overpowering a battling Hawks squad, even forcing overtime? Sure, of course.
The Sixers started off the game with good energy. They weren’t just trading buckets with the Hawks — they were leading early on. As expected, the Hawks talent eventually showed up with them creating some space in the second quarter and the visitors led by 10 at the half, but the Sixers weren’t done fighting. They forced OT and Georges Niang’s hot hand from long range secured the win for Philadelphia.
The Sixers had zero business being in this game, let alone winning it. Seeing this amount of effort from the entire rotation, with many players that typically never play, was a real treat for fans. Shoutout to Shake Milton, Jaden Springer, Jalen McDaniels, Georges Niang, and Danuel House, Jr. for what turned out to be a really fun game.
Sixers at Brooklyn Nets
Result: W, 134-105
Bell Ringer: Mac McClung
Like the Sixers, the Nets sat the majority of their impactful players. Mikal Bridges started the game before immediately subbing out to record his 83rd game played this season. Expect to see a lot more of that sort of thing in the future as they start to require an amount of minimum games played for records and awards.
Philly had seven players score in double figures, including all five players who came off the bench. Shake Milton and slam dunk contest champion Mac McClung led the Sixers with 20 points apiece.
The Sixers finished the regular season at 54-28, their highest win total since the 2000-01 season. They will have most of the week off before starting their first round playoff series hosting the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday afternoon in Game 1.