Where do the Sixers stand in the playoff picture after beating Orlando?

Orlando Magic’s Paolo Banchero, center, gets fouled by Philadelphia 76ers’ Nicolas Batum, right, as he is going up for the shot with Joel Embiid, left, defending during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, April 12, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The Sixers are trying to avoid the play-in tournament as the postseason approaches. Against the Orlando Magic, they helped their chances with one game remaining.

The Sixers’ dynamic duo dominates

Embiid, sixers
Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, right, celebrates with Tyrese Maxey after an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Sixers needed a big game from their two All-Stars, and they got it. As a top one-two punch tandem in the NBA, Joel, Embiid, and Tyrese Maxey gave the Sixers exactly what was needed for a win.

Embiid had a complete game, scoring 32 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, and dishing out seven assists. His interior passing in the first half was impressive. A pocket pass for a layup and threading the needle for an open three in the same quarter are good signs that Embiid is getting his game rhythm back. Although he did turn the ball over four times, he got to the free-throw line nine times and only missed once.

Tyrese Maxey scored an efficient 28 points in 40 minutes. The Sixers’ All-Star guard attempted 10 three-pointers and made half of them. His speed, quickness, and threat to shoot from long range gave Orlando’s defense problems all night. Maxey’s barrage of threes helped Philly outscore Orlando from the 3-point line. The Sixers made 18 total threes compared to the Magic’s eight.

The injury scare for Joel Embiid caused a collective gasp inside the Wells Fargo Center. Before the half, the Sixers big man appeared to tweak his ankle. Luckily, he returned to the game and finished it.

If the 76ers are going to make a deep playoff run, it starts with these two stars. If they are going to avoid the play-in tournament, the Sixers may need a little help.

Seeding coming down to the wire

Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, center, goes up for the shot as he splits between Orlando Magic’s Jonathan Isaac, left, and Franz Wagner, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, April 12, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Amazingly, the only playoff seed that is etched in stone belongs to Boston. No matter what happens this weekend with any of the Eastern Conference teams, the Celtics have locked up the number one spot. The Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls have qualified for the play-in, but they are not guaranteed a playoff spot.

According to Tim Bontemps from ESPN, the Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, and Cleveland Cavaliers can each technically grab the second seed. If Milwaukee loses and New York wins against the Bulls, the Knicks will get the second seed. If the Bucks and Knicks lose, and Cleveland wins against Charlotte, the Cavs take the second seed. If Milwaukee wins against Orlando, the Bucks will lock up the second seed, no matter what the other teams do.

For the Sixers to stay out of the play-in, they need to beat Brooklyn on Sunday. However, they need Indiana to lose, and they need Orlando to lose. If the Pacers and the Magic both win, though, the Sixers will land on the seventh seed. 

Fortunately, the Brooklyn game is more than winnable on Sunday. The Nets have been eliminated from the playoffs, and they don’t have much to play for. If the Sixers fall asleep at the wheel, though, they could be flirting with disaster.

Miami is most likely going to be the seventh or eighth seed. Philly was eliminated by the Heat just two years ago. Regardless of the past, though, no team wants to face playoff Jimmy Butler to start the postseason.

Aside from a complete choke job and being eliminated in the play-in, the worst-case scenario is the Sixers land in the eighth spot and play the Celtics in the first round. The way that Boston has dominated the season start to finish, should scare any fanbase that has to see their team square off against Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in an opening series.