After the All-Star Break, the Philadelphia 76ers faced the league’s most brutal remaining schedule, with multiple matchups against the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks looming.
How the Sixers fared at this critical juncture was thought to indicate how serious the Sixers are as a playoff threat. They’ve answered the call, going 10-3 since the break, including a current eight-game win streak.
The team’s most recent win came against the hapless Indiana Pacers, the second night of an away back-to-back. After the game, Doc Rivers called out the Sixers’ grueling schedule, a product of the league’s preseason decision-making.
“We’re not out of it,” Rivers told reporters, per Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire. “This flying home from here to play one game to go back on a row for four is insane, but it is what it is, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
The Sixers have four more games this week, including a road stretch that includes showdowns against the Warriors and Suns.
Rivers: Team Coming Home to Handle ‘Laundry’
Before heading out of town, though, the Sixers will return to the City of Brotherly Love for a home game against the Bulls.
It won’t be a long break, as Rivers noted tongue in cheek.
“The one game is still a road game,” Rivers explained. “Our crowd will give us support and that’ll only be the reason we’ll know that we’re at home, but we’re literally coming home to do laundry, and then we go back on the road. For those guys that do laundry.”
The Sixers project to match up well against the Bulls. The Sixers are just 1-1 against Chicago this season, but the two teams are heading in opposite directions.
While Philadelphia is 9-1 over their last ten, while the Bulls are just 6-4. Moreover, the Bulls have spent much of the season in the conference’s basement, currently a fringe play-in team; the Sixers, on the other hand, just pulled ahead of the Celtics for the East’s No. 2 seed.
Pacers Skipper Weighs In on Embiid MVP Case
Rivers wasn’t the only coach to drop his take after the Sixers’ win over Indy.
Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle spent his postgame conference offering his take on the MVP race, praising Sixers star Joel Embiid as the award’s frontrunner.
“Right now, (Embiid’s) probably the MVP with what their team is doing and how he’s elevated his game,” Carlisle told reporters, per Bally Sports Indiana’s YouTube channel. “He’s as difficult a guy to game plan for as there is in the game. Giannis (Antetokounmpo) is crazy ridiculous. (Nikola) Jokic is (the) same, and this guy may be even more difficult if that’s possible.”
Embiid has been pivotal to the Sixers’ recent run. In 12 appearances since the All-Star Break, Embiid is averaging 35.0 points (second in the NBA over that stretch), 10.2 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game (third over that stretch).
His heroics have put the Sixers within striking distance of the conference’s No. 1 seed. With games against the Celtics (No. 3) and Bucks (No. 1) remaining, the Eastern Conference playoff seeding race is likely to come down to the wire.
Fortunately, the Sixers have the league’s best road record this season at 22-12. Thus, if the Sixers don’t nab the top seed and foreclose the possibility of home-court advantage during the entire postseason, they should feel as confident as any team in getting a needed road win.