Philadelphia 76ers control own destiny for No. 3 seed with one game remaining

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

After emerging as one of the hottest teams in the NBA since the All-Star break, the Philadelphia 76ers have an opportunity to clinch the No. 3 seed on Wednesday.

Back in October, the thought of the Philadelphia 76ers finishing the regular season with one of the best records in the Eastern Conference seemed like a long shot, even with the presence of healthy young players like Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. If anything, the Sixers at best seemed like they would earn one of the final playoff spots in the conference if they were in fact to become contenders, but obviously that was far from the case.

Instead, Philadelphia has exceeded all expectations by becoming one of the most dangerous teams heading into the playoffs, and will officially earn the No. 3 or No. 4 seed in the standings, depending on what happens on Wednesday. For the Sixers, all they have to do is increase their impressive winning streak to 16 games with another victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the regular-season finale to avoid having to worry about the Cleveland Cavaliers sneaking into the No. 3 spot at the last second.

However, if Philadelphia ends up falling to Milwaukee, and Cleveland ends up defeating the New York Knicks on Wednesday, Brett Brown‘s team would slip to the No. 4 seed. While this may not seem like a big deal for the Sixers, let’s not forget that the difference between the No. 3 or No. 4 seed could result in the possibility of playing either the Toronto Raptors or Boston Celtics in the second round, depending on how the first round ends up.

The thought alone of Philadelphia even being in this position a few months ago seemed insane to consider, but here they are as one of the last teams anyone in the Eastern Conference wants to face in the playoffs when looking at how dominant they’ve been as of late. Not to mention, it’s been even more amazing to see the Sixers continue winning games despite Embiid watching from the sidelines while continuing to recover from an eye injury.

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After all of the years spent rebuilding and loading up on high draft picks, it’s amazing to see Philadelphia finally be in this position as a serious threat in the Eastern Conference. As crazy as it sounds, the Sixers may even have what it takes to make a run at the Eastern Conference Finals, but before jumping that far ahead, the focus needs to be taking down the Bucks since the chances of receiving help from the Knicks defeating the Cavaliers is slim.