In an announcement put out by ESPN earlier in the week, it was revealed that the NBA would be voting on a return to basketball set to take place in late July. The proposal included 22 total teams, potential play-in tournaments for 8th and 9th seeds, and eight final regular season games.
With the proposal successfully passed on Thursday, this plan is now being put into place, and regular season schedules are being finalized. The Philadelphia 76ers final eight games prior to the playoffs looks like this:
All things considered, this is a favorable layout for the Sixers. The Wizards, Suns, and Blazers are all currently not in the playoffs, and the team avoids some of the top seeds like the Bucks, Lakers, Clippers, Nuggets, and Celtics.
While the “neutral” nature of things will no doubt play a role in how these games turn out (all games will be played in Orlando), here’s a quick preview to each matchup as the Sixers look to climb the Eastern Conference standings one final team.
Not only will the Sixers be coming off a super extended break, but Philly has lost their last two games against Indiana. Victor Oladipo has had plenty of time to rest up, and a guard-heavy Pacers team spells trouble for the slower Sixers.
At 24-40, the Wizards are statistically the worst team headed down to Orlando. Unless Bradley Beal turns into the second coming of Michael Jordan, they’re likely more interested in draft position than wins.
The Raptors have had the Sixers’ number since way back during last year’s playoffs. Nick Nurse is set to win “Coach of the Year” and Marc Gasol excels at defending Joel Embiid.
The Suns are a fun tea, and Devin Booker is exactly the type of player the Sixers struggle to guard. However, similar to the Wizards, Phoenix would probably prefer a higher draft pick as opposed to slipping into the postseason as an eighth seed.
The Blazers are a good basketball team who has just gotten severely unlucky with injuries this year. Damian Lillard is playing like an MVP, and CJ McCollum is legit. However, with Jusuf Nurkic coming off of a nasty leg injury, it’s unlikely they’ll be in a great position to compete this August.
Houston and Philadelphia are legit polar opposites. One team has committed completely to small ball, whereas the other has built their squad around centers. While there’s a chance the Sixers come in riding hot off two wins, the speed of the Rockets likely proves too much to handle.
Once again, the Wizards just aren’t a very good basketball team. This should be a good game to snag a bounce-back win.
Ending this eight game stretch with the Wizards and the Magic back to back is a blessing for the Sixers. While this is 100% the definition of a “trap game”, the team should ideally finish the regular season out with two straight victories.
Prediction? “A very nervous and way too close of a game” win.
Coming out of this final stretch of games with five wins is a pretty good spot for the Sixers to be in. Currently just two games behind the Miami Heat and tied with the Indiana Pacers, they could very easily jump up two whole spots in the standings.
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David is a 20 year old college student at the University of Maryland. A lifelong Philadelphia sports fan who started covering the teams back in late May of 2019. After just a few months of writing for fun on a personal blog, he now reports on the 76ers for PhillySportsNetwork.com and the Phillies for Fansided.com.