It is quite apparent that this NBA season’s playoff race has been unreal, full of stalemates and half-game leads that can disappear within a few hours of basketball. The West in particular has seen seeds three (Portland) through nine (Denver) in possibly the tightest playoff race a conference has ever seen. The East is full of good stuff too, with the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat tied for the sixth seed and the Wizards just a game behind them. One of the most interesting races, however, is the Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers fighting for the third seed in the Eastern Conference.
If you had told me I would be writing about these two teams fighting for a three seed, I would have called you crazy. But when all is said and done, the Cavs are still a great team despite their ups and downs. It looks like the 76ers are not willing to take too long to prove that they are the real deal as well.
Cleveland currently sits at the fourth seed, and is a full game behind Philadelphia. Most fans know to never bet against LeBron James in the postseason, because playoff LeBron is more beast than man. He takes his game to another level basically every time the playoffs come around, and with the way he is playing right now it is even hard to believe that there is room to go up. But believe me, he will.
Philadelphia just won their 14th straight game against the Dallas Mavericks, and have all the momentum in the world entering the playoffs. There are a million ways to state how scary this team is, and that still seems like it would not suffice. Oh, and they are missing Joel Embiid.
Sixers center Joel Embiid suffered an orbital fracture in late March and is expected to miss a few weeks of play. However, this has not stopped the 76ers from winning games, and keep in mind this young team has been winning game after game without one of the best centers in the league.
Unfortunately for the big man, he still does not have a timetable to return. The sooner the better for Embiid, this team and basketball in general.
The Sixers and Cavs faced off on April 6, resulting in a thrilling 132-130 Sixers win to keep their streak alive and further assert their legitimacy. We saw some of the greatest statistical games this season from LeBron James and Ben Simmons, who also had plenty of help in the high scoring affair.
James had a triple-double with 44 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists while sinking 17 out of his 29 shots. This combination of efficiency and volume is insane, and he makes it look easy every time he steps on the floor. And yes, he is in fact in his 15th season.
Simmons fooled around and had a triple-double of his own, consisting of 27 points, 15 rebounds and 13. Oh, and he shot over 70 percent from the field and added four steals and a block. The rookie is just ridiculous, and he has really taken this team and turned them into one of the funnest to watch.
And the best part? Simmons is a rookie, and we have another 15 or so years of greatness from him and this Sixers team.
Remaining schedules and possibilities
The Cavaliers have two games remaining, both of them being against the lowly New York Knicks. This is great spot for Cleveland to be in, as these are two very winnable games to help them get to that third seed.
The 76ers also have two games remaining against the Hawks and the Bucks. While the Atlanta game should be a no-brainer, the Milwaukee game should be a great one with the Bucks likewise fighting for seeding as they are tied with Miami.
Assuming that these two teams each stay in the three and four seeds, the only way they can play each other would be in the Eastern Conference finals. Even though the Raptors do seem like the real deal this year, clinching the No. 1 seed and all that, this scenario is very possible. And if it comes to fruition, I cannot wait to be glued to my TV when the time comes.
The fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Philadelphia 76ers are fighting for the same playoff position is madness, and the reason I love basketball and the NBA so much.
Keep in mind that the same year the Cleveland Cavaliers won a championship, the Sixers were the worst team in the league and won just 10 games. Yes, their record was 10-72, winning just one more game than the Warriors lost the whole season.
Now fast forward just two seasons, and both of these teams look entirely different, but of equal competitive nature. The future of the teams, especially Philadelphia, is truly exciting. This would not be a 76ers-related article without signing off with these three words: Trust the Process.
Featured image from www.pressofatlanticcity.com
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