June 6, 2023

What to watch as 76ers look to maintain the No. 1 seed vs. Rockets


Photo by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

The 44-21 Philadelphia 76ers will try to sustain their momentum going Wednesday night in their race for the Eastern Conference’s number one seed vs. the 16-49 Houston Rockets. With the Bucks’ win Tuesday over the Nets, the Sixers are 1.5 games ahead of Brooklyn and three in front of Milwaukee. 

Here’s what to watch:

Lengthy injury report for Rockets

The Rockets’ injury report is lengthy. As of Tuesday night, six Houston players had been ruled out:

  • John Wall (right hamstring strain) 
  • Eric Gordon (right groin strain)
  • Dante Exum (right calf strain) 
  • David Nwaba (right wrist sprain)
  • Sterling Brown (left knee soreness)
  • D.J. Wilson (health and safety protocols)

On the Wednesday 1:30 P.M. report, Jae’Sean Tate (health and safety protocols) was also listed as out.

Danuel House Jr. (right ankle soreness) and Christian Wood (right ankle soreness) are doubtful. D.J. Augustin is questionable with a left ankle sprain. 

Furkan Korkmaz (right ankle sprain) is out, but the Sixers are otherwise healthy. 

Bench changes

Korkmaz had been serving recently as the 10th man in the Sixers’ rotation. Without him, head coach Doc Rivers used Mike Scott for six minutes and Tyrese Maxey for two in the second half of his team’s win Monday over the Chicago Bulls. The Sixers’ bench wasn’t good, allowing the Bulls to cut a lead over 20 points down to one in the fourth quarter. 

One option could be cutting down to nine players and keeping a starter(s) on the floor with the second unit at all times. Even if the starters’ minutes increase very slightly over the first three quarters, the hope would be that the Sixers can build a big enough lead to let their stars relax in the fourth, unlike in Chicago. 

Sixers are likely to take the No. 1 seed

With seven regular-season games left, the Sixers lead the second-place Nets by a game and a half, and also hold the tiebreaker over Brooklyn by winning the regular-season series.

“You might look at a race like that and say, that’s pretty much close to a 50-50 race for the top seed, but the numbers tell a different story,” NBC News’ Steve Kornacki said on Sixers Pregame Live before the team’s win Monday over the Bulls. “It’s anything but.”

According to Sportradar, they have a 99.07% chance of finishing No. 1, a 0.865% probability of No. 2 and a 0.058% chance of No. 3 heading into Tuesday’s games. 

That model is especially bullish on the Sixers. Basketball Reference gives the team a 91.9 percent chance at No. 1.

Here are the Sixers’ final seven games: 

  • 5/5 at Rockets
  • 5/7 vs. Pelicans
  • 5/8 vs. Pistons
  • 5/11 at Pacers
  • 5/13 at Heat 
  • 5/14 vs. Magic
  • 5/16 vs. Magic 

Miami, the current No. 6 seed in the East, is the Sixers’ toughest on-paper opponent left.


When: 8:00 P.M. E.S.T.

Where: Toyota Center

Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia

Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic

Social media coverage: Philly Sports Reports’ Twitter & Instagram.

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