There’s optimism almost everywhere you look.
On Wednesday, the Philadelphia 76ers clinched a playoff spot with a dominant 127-83 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
The team is only one game behind the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference. They could certainly still win it.
And now, even the offseason looks bright, with a recent report from The Athletic that the Sixers are planning to pursue Raptors guard Kyle Lowry in a sign-and-trade deal this summer.
In that article, Sam Amick and John Hollinger wrote:
“…Sources say the Sixers still plan on pursuing (Lowry) by way of a possible sign-and-trade. While they added George Hill at the (trade) deadline in lieu of Lowry, only $1.2 million of Hill’s $10 million salary for next season is guaranteed, and the deal expires at that point. The Lowry interest remains very strong there.”
So the Sixers could secure another win this summer. Especially considering that Lowry grew up in Philadelphia and went to college at nearby Villanova.
Philadelphia would be a No. 2 seed if the playoffs started today
But no one is looking ahead to the offseason right now. With only 10 games remaining in the regular season and the Sixers in prime position, the playoffs are presently the main focus.
And the postseason push continues this weekend, with Philadelphia hosting the Hawks on Friday and the team traveling to San Antonio for a game with the Spurs on Sunday.
In this week’s installment of Penn Sportsbooks’ Pick Play, we’ll take a look at the Sixers upcoming schedule and check in on their futures odds at the best Pennsylvania sportsbooks.
Sixers-Hawks matchup features two top-tier Eastern Conference teams
Philadelphia hosts Atlanta at 7 p.m. Friday in a matchup of two playoff teams. The Hawks are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference heading into the weekend.
At FanDuel Sportsbook, the Sixers are favored by 9.5 points at press time (-110 payout). The moneyline odds are -460, with the Hawks +360. The Over/Under total is set at 220 (-110 payout).
And on Sunday, the Sixers take on the Spurs at 8 p.m. San Antonio is currently ninth in the Western Conference, just outside the traditional playoffs.
But unlike previous seasons, this year any team that finishes in the top 10 in either conference has a chance to make the postseason. Starting May 18, each conference will hold a play-in tournament for teams 7-10 to determine the two final playoff spots.
Perhaps San Antonio will be one of them. The Sixers, though, are definitely in.
And superstars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are a big reason for that success.
Two centers lead the NBA MVP futures
According to FanDuel, Sixers center Joel Embiid is currently second in MVP futures at +390. Denver’s Nikola Jokic is the favorite at -450.
And Simmons is second in Defensive Player of the Year futures at +390. Utah’s Rudy Gobert is the favorite for that award at -550.
In Eastern Conference futures, the 76ers are third at +440, behind Brooklyn (-110) and Milwaukee (+350). And in NBA Championship futures, Philadelphia is +1200. The Nets (+220), Lakers (+350), and Clippers (+600) are the favorites in that category.
How far can the new Sixers go?
So with 10 games left in the regular season, the Sixers are exactly where they had hoped to be. Last year ended with a disappointing loss in the first round of the playoffs.
But things have changed.
There’s a new coach (Doc Rivers), a new president (Daryl Morey), and a completely different roster that keeps producing wins.
It’s creating optimism almost everywhere.
And we’ll soon see how far it goes.
Lead image credit: AP Photo/Matt Slocum