76ers to Remain Play-In Team Despite Taking Care of Business Against Nets

76ers to Remain Play-In Team Despite Taking Care of Business Against Nets Apr 14, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (0) drives against Brooklyn Nets guard Cam Thomas (24) during the third quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers took care of business against the Brooklyn Nets, defeating them handily 107-86 on Sunday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center. With the win, the Sixers end the regular season on an eight game winning streak. Despite their victory against Brooklyn, the Sixers will remain in the play-in tournament. Here are some notes and context from the Sixers’ win over the Nets in the regular season finale:

– The Sixers took a major gamble against the Nets when they ruled Joel Embiid (left knee injury recovery) out about 45 minutes prior to the start of the game. They needed to beat the Nets in order to have any shot at avoiding the play-in tournament. By not playing Embiid, they were banking on the remainder of the team being good enough to beat an also banged up Nets squad. If Embiid, who briefly checked out of their prior game against the Orlando Magic, was actually hurt then by all he means he should have sat out. However, head coach Nick Nurse told reporters after the game Embiid was held out for precautionary reasons. The Sixers ended up easily beating the Nets, but sitting Embiid essentially for rest with so much on the line was an unwise gamble.

Philadelphia’s win over the Nets ultimately did not matter in terms of the Eastern Conference standings. In order for the Sixers to have moved up from seventh place, they needed some help from around the league. Unfortunately, they received no such assistance. The Orlando Magic defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 113-88 while the Indiana Pacers demolished the Atlanta Hawks 157-115. As a result of the NBA’s three-way tiebreaker rules, the Magic finished with the fifth seed due to winning their division. The Pacers remained the sixth seed due to winning the season series against the Sixers 2-1.

The Sixers will finish the season in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. This sets them up to face off against the Miami Heat in the play-in tournament. The winner will be the seventh seed and match up against the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs. If the Sixers lose to Miami, they will face the winner of the contest between the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks for the right to be the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Their matchup against the Heat will be on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

– With Embiid ruled out, the Sixers were going to have to rely heavily on Tyrese Maxey. He delivered with a 26-point performance against the Nets. While the rest of the team got off to a slower start, Maxey was cooking with gas right from the opening minutes. He scored 20 points in the first half, helping the Sixers take an 11-point lead into halftime. The Nets had no answer for Maxey’s combination of speed and outside shooting. While he had a quieter second half, the Sixers had no problems keeping the Nets at arms length at that point.

– Maxey was not the only player to step up against the Nets. Tobias Harris, who is likely playing in his final regular season game in a Sixers uniform, produced on both ends of the floor. He used his mid-range game and size advantage against Brooklyn to get into a rhythm. For someone who has often struggled to assert himself offensively, he had no issues on that front against the Nets. Harris went into halftime with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting. He continued to make an impact in the second half, knocking down a couple of 3-pointers. It was good to see him play with confidence, especially as a shooter. He made three of his six attempts from long distance on his way to finishing with 21 points and eight rebounds against Brooklyn.

– The Sixers also received some strong performances from the supporting cast. Buddy Hield totaled 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists off the bench. He went on a heater at the end of the third quarter, making a trio of 3-pointers in the final minute of the quarter. The Nets managed to hang within striking distance, but Hield’s scoring flurry was enough to blow the game wide open. He finished the game shooting 4-of-10 from 3-point range, continuing his good shooting from the last couple games. Getting him into a rhythm heading into the postseason is a major deal for the Sixers.

Paul Reed also put together a monster performance against the Nets. He filled up the stat sheet, finishing with 13 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks. As he typically does, Reed was a menace on the offensive glass. He grabbed five offensive rebounds, consistently out-hustling a Nets team that had nothing to play for. Coming off a poor showing against the Magic, it was good to see him bounce back and end the regular season on a positive note.

– In addition to Embiid, the Sixers were without De’Anthony Melton (back; injury recovery), Robert Covington (left knee bone bruise) and KJ Martin (left great toe contusion). The news on the injury front was not good for the Sixers. After the game, Nurse sounded skeptical about Melton’s availability for the game against Miami. Regarding Covington, Nurse said he is still not able to move enough without experiencing pain in his left knee. Nurse also said he does not expect Covington to return this season.

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