The victories have been closer than they should have been. The losses featured an opposing player scoring at least 50 points. And, the Sixers are anything but a healthy team as they head into the postseason.
This could be a sign that the team is trying its best to balance staying sharp while remaining as physically healthy as possible. The latter — considering Embiid’s ankle and Simmons’ knee — has not been successful since entering the NBA’s Disney World campus.
There are three seeding games left, starting Tuesday afternoon at 4:30, against a hungry Suns team. Then, Wednesday against the Toronto Raptors, and Friday versus the Houston Rockets.
Head coach Brett Brown believes Embiid will play in at least one of the final two games before the postseason starts next week.
“I do expect him to. That’s just one man’s opinion. Nobody’s doing cartwheels over it something severe,” he said. “I do believe it would be good for him to play before the playoffs begin.”
Either way, Brown hopes his team’s defense — which he believes is taking a hit (along with their offense) with the loss of Simmons — will take strides forward this week, before the importance of games start to rise exponentially.
“We really as a team have to do some things better than we currently do defensively to understand what it takes to win in the playoffs,” he said.
They will have a great test of that on Tuesday, as the Suns are a red hot 6-0 in the bubble as they try to fight their way into the Western Conference playoff picture. Phoenix is led by elite scorer Devin Booker, who has given Philadelphia fits in the past.
The Sixers have given up 53 points to T.J. Warren and 51 to Damian Lillard since the season resumed. Booker is more than capable of doing the same.