October 4, 2023

What to watch as 76ers’ magic number is down to 2 to clinch No. 1 seed in East as they face Pistons


Photo via Philadelphia 76ers' Twitter

Something would have to seriously go wrong if the Philadelphia 76ers didn’t finish with the first seed in the Eastern Conference. At 46-21, they lead the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets by three games. Each team has five left to play heading into Saturday night’s game, where the Sixers will face the 20-47 Detroit Pistons. 

Here’s what to watch:

Green seems unhappy with Sixers’ play

The Sixers’ seven straight wins are a season-high. Danny Green apparently isn’t pleased with how they’ve gotten some of those wins. He was asked how the team has been playing after Saturday night’s escape win against the New Orleans Pelicans. 

“Not well,” he said. “Not our type of basketball. We’re getting wins, but I don’t like the way we’ve been getting them. We’ve got to be more locked in. I’m not saying that to disrespect — any team can win on any given night. They’re very talented teams regardless. But these teams are not 100% healthy; they don’t have everybody. 

“If we’re going to play like the first team in the East or a championship contender, a team that wants to be the last team standing with the potential we can play, we need to do a lot better. I think when guys see these teams, they feel like, ‘All right, we only need to play offense.’ … Like I said, we’re just not playing the right way, offensively or defensively.”

Tough luck vs. zone defense

The Pelicans’ zone defense bothered the Sixers Friday night.

Zone offense popped up as a problem for the Sixers in mid-December losses last season to the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks.

As long as they stay composed and execute the fundamentals, it doesn’t seem like it should be an issue moving forward.

Grant plans to return 

Former Sixer Jerami Grant was listed as questionable on Friday night’s injury report with right knee soreness. Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported earlier this week that Grant planned to play against the Sixers. He’s been out since April 26. Wayne Ellington (bilateral calf strain) and Cory Joseph (left ankle soreness) were also questionable. Dennis Smith Jr., Rodney McGruder, Josh Jackson and Hamidou Diallo have been ruled out.  

One of the Pistons’ 20 wins came against the Sixers, a 119-104 game in Detroit on Jan. 25 that Joel Embiid missed due to back tightness.

Embiid (left knee injury recovery) had been listed as questionable Friday before playing and scoring 37 points in 33 minutes. He was one of three Sixers listed as questionable on Saturday’s 1:30 P.M. injury report, along with Seth Curry (left hip injury recovery) and Ben Simmons (back tightness). Furkan Korkmaz is out with a right ankle sprain.


When: 7:00 P.M. E.S.T.

Where: Wells Fargo Center

Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia +

Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic

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

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