After a dominant defensive effort against the Atlanta Hawks, the Philadelphia 76ers have now clinched a spot in the NBA playoffs.
The Sixers did exactly what they were supposed to tonight and absolutely dominated an inferior team. What would once be a potential “trap game” for the Sixers has now become the easy win that is expected from a contender.
Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Seth Curry all had impressive offensive games, but the difference tonight was clearly on the defensive end. The Atlanta Hawks had been obviously struggling offensively without Trae Young, averaging only 98 points per game. Philly, though, only allowed them 83 points in this matchup, a season-low for both the Hawks and Sixers.
The tone was set by both Embiid and Simmons, and that defensive intensity will be one of the keys to a deep playoff run. While Atlanta isn’t the biggest test for the Sixers defense, to hold them under 90 points is an accomplishment in today’s NBA. There’s no reason to doubt that this defense can carry the Sixers in the postseason, as long as they have a competent offense.
What’s even more exciting than the win is that the Sixers have officially secured a spot in the NBA playoffs after tonight’s game.
Is the Philadelphia 76ers‘ playoff presence a surprise? No, but it’s an accomplishment that shouldn’t go unrecognized. The team has done well this season and has earned the right to be celebrated.
The fight isn’t over, though, as the team is still a game back of the Brooklyn Nets for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers will have Thursday off and then face the Atlanta Hawks yet again at 7:00 PM EST on Friday night.
It’s also worth noting that after tonight’s game, the Sixers have the easiest strength of schedule remaining in the entire NBA with 10 games to go.