A brief line of near clinching contests has come to a close. Following two losses against Indiana and Miami, the 76ers have accomplished their season goal — clinching the East 1st seed in a win over Orlando 122-97. The only other time Philadelphia achieved such a target as the 1st seed was in 2001. Not so long ago, Philadelphia was once a 10-game win team.
The 76ers took heavy control of the game versus Orlando in the second quarter, 66-43. Philadelphia was destined to win, as the Magic have lost six straight. Through the fourth quarter, the 76ers capitalized on the offensive end — locating each other with open shots — largely via fastbreak. A significant role in Philly’s win was Seth Curry’s play, as he finished with 20 points.
Unlike the 2001 season — a finals loss with Allen Iverson, the 76ers will look to win for the first time since 1983. “We had such a good regular season but at the end of the day you’ve got to go out and prove why you were the No. 1 seed,” MVP candidate Joel Embiid said. “You got to go into the playoffs and beat these teams and win the whole thing.”
With the No. 1 seed on deck, the 76ers secure home-court advantage through the Eastern Conference finals — avoiding Brooklyn and Milwaukee in the first two rounds. A key pleasure to having a home-court advantage is fans. The city of brotherly love will return to The Wells Fargo Center at full capacity by June 11th, that is if the 76ers succeed into the Conference Finals. Philadelphia doesn’t take home-court advantage for granted. Over the past four seasons, they’ve controversially have had the best home-court advantage in the entire NBA. For this season Philadelphia carries the best home record in the East at 27-7, compared to a road record of 20-16.
“It means what we said we wanted to do at the start of the season was get that No. 1 seed. Obviously have home-court advantage, but besides that, we’ve got to get ready for the playoffs,” Ben Simmons observed. “We’ve got one more game to finish out and then the real job starts. We put ourselves in a good position but ultimately we want to win the championship.”
The Hornets, Pacers, Wizards, and Boston Celtics are all first-round opponents, depending on how the play-in tournament is undertaken. Ben Simmons doesn’t present too much attention to who they play: “I don’t care who we play. That’s the point of having the No. 1 seed,” the starting guard said. “You feel like you’re the best team in your conference so you’re supposed to be able to play anybody. If we were scared, we shouldn’t be in this position.”
A possible second-round matchup for Philadelphia was distinguished in a loss versus Miami on Thursday. A wild clash between the 76ers and Heat presented a glimpse of a second-round series. Both teams show exceptional chemistry and depth on both ends of the floor. A series between the two east clubs would showcase the upper class of the defensive end.