Photo By: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA Today Sports
On Tuesday, the Philadelphia 76ers take on Domantas Sabonis and the Indiana Pacers on the road at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Sixers have won eight games in a row and are one win away from clinching the first seed in the Eastern Conference. A win against the Pacers gives them the one seed, and they are already 2-0 against the Pacers this year.
The Sixers won their first game against this Pacers team without Joel Embiid, and it was really due to the crucial change Doc Rivers made at the end of the game, switching to a 2-3 zone, and letting Simmons and Thybulle wreak havoc on the Pacers. Add in 10 Q4 points from Tobias Harris and 11 Q4 points from Furkan Korkmaz, and the Sixers ended up coming back and winning 119-110. In the second matchup, the game was less interesting as the Sixers won 130-114, led by Embiid with 24 PTS and 13 REB, but it was Shake Milton off the bench who gave the Sixers a spark with 26 PTS.
The Sixers key to this game is going to be the play of Joel Embiid. With Myles Turner injured, the Pacers lost their rim protector and the only real chance of slowing Joel down, so he should have a field day. The Sixers also need to find a way to mix up second unit rotations due to the absence of Matisse Thybulle, who’s dealing with a hand injury. The second unit will struggle without Thybulle defensively, and if they can’t find a way to prevent the Pacers from scoring all over them, they will be the reason why the Sixers lose. Also, the absence of Matisse likely means Mike Scott minutes, which will also be a contributing factor if the Sixers lose.
For Sixers fans, game time can’t get here quick enough, as they’re excited to see the Sixers potentially lock up the first seed for the first time since 2000-01. With a depleted second unit, there is a good chance young guys like Maxey and Joe will see increased minutes. The one seed is crucial for the Sixers, as it means they don’t have to deal with either Milwaukee or Brooklyn in the first two rounds. With the playoffs nearing, Sixers fans and the NBA as a whole wonder if trusting the Process will finally pay off