What you need to know with Sixers on verge of clinching No. 1 seed originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
With three straight road wins and eight overall under their belts, the 47-21 Sixers will play the 32-36 Pacers on Tuesday night in Indiana.
Joel Embiid (non-COVID illness), Matisse Thybulle (left hand soreness) and Furkan Korkmaz (right ankle sprain) are out.
The Pacers' Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, Myles Turner, T.J. Warren and Edmond Sumner are sidelined with injuries. JaKarr Sampson has cleared the NBA's concussion protocol and is expected to be available, Indiana head coach Nate Bjorkgen said pregame.
Here are the essentials for Tuesday’s game:
When: 8 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 7:15 p.m.
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams app
And here are three storylines to watch:
The Sixers are on the verge of clinching the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Their “magic number” is one.
A win over the Pacers would do it. If that doesn’t happen, losses by the Bucks and Nets would be enough. The odds of the Sixers somehow not ending at No. 1 are infinitesimal, even if the team doesn’t clinch the top seed Tuesday night.
In terms of home-court advantage, the Sixers’ next competition of sorts would be with the Western Conference’s top teams for a potential NBA Finals matchup. The Sixers are currently behind the 50-18 Jazz and 48-20 Suns, and they’re ahead of the 45-23 Clippers (and every other team in the West).
If the Sixers win their final four regular-season games, it would be their best record by winning percentage since the title-winning 1982-83 campaign. Even an 0-4 finish would mean the team’s best regular season since 2000-01.
Pacers have something to play for
The Pacers have been in a state of turmoil over the last week. Multiple reports have detailed uncertainty over Bjorkgren’s job status and a variety of internal issues in his first year.
The team fined Goga Bitadze and suspended assistant coach Greg Foster for one game following a confrontation between the two during Indiana’s loss last Wednesday to the Kings.
Since then, the Pacers have won two of three games. They’re ninth in the East standings, a half-game ahead of the Wizards and 1.5 behind the Hornets. Seeds seven through 10 will participate in this season’s play-in tournament. If Indiana qualifies, Sixers vs. Pacers is a possible Round 1 postseason matchup.
A good chance for Simmons to attack?
Indiana’s approach of guarding Ben Simmons closely on the perimeter has been unique this season, and not especially effective.
Simmons has scored 39 points on 16-for-23 shooting in this year’s two Sixers-Pacers matchups. The Sixers have invited ball pressure by setting high ball screens for Simmons, allowing him to drive with downhill momentum in a way he often can’t when opponents sag far off of him.
Will the Pacers change things up? It’s likely positive news for Simmons and the Sixers if they don’t.