The Sixers are entering the home stretch of the 2022-2023 NBA season. With a 46-22 record currently suitable for the third seed in the East, there is still a chance the Sixers leapfrog the Celtics for the two seeds in the east. This opens the number of potential opponents the Sixers could face (due to the play-in tournament), so let’s dive into a little breakdown of each team.
New York Knicks (41-30, Current 5th seed):
The Knicks are one of if not the hottest teams in the NBA since the all-star break. While these two teams split their head-to-head meetings 2-2, the lack of size in the center position is why I feel Sixers fans shouldn’t be worried about a potential matchup with the Knicks. What they do have that could trouble the Sixers is multiple ball handlers that, if the game gets close, can make plays in Jalen Brunson, R.J Barret, and Julius Randle. It would have to be a defensive slugfest, as the Knicks also lack elite three-point shooters. The Sixers should handle them in 5.
Brooklyn Nets (39-31, Current 6th seed):
While at one point, the national media would’ve relished this potential series as it would have been Ben Simmons vs. the Sixers and KD/Kyrie vs. Harden, a lot has changed in the NBA. Kyrie is on the Mavs, KD is on the Suns, and Ben Simmons is “hurt.” The Nets, to me, are a bad matchup for the Sixers. They have many 3-D guys who can guard James Harden and Tyrese Maxey, like Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, and Royce O’neale. While Nicholas Claxton lacks strength, there is a reason he will be a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year. They also have snipers in Joe Harris and Seth Curry, and at any point, Cam Thomas can give you 40. This would also be a playoff matchup where the Nets have nothing to lose, and the Sixers have everything to lose due to the events that transpired. I still think the Sixers handle the Nets in 6, but I could see them dropping game 1 or 2 at home and having a wake-up call.
Miami Heat (38-33, Current 7th seed):
While this Heat team is having a down year, what fears me and other Sixers fans is that bad man Jimmy Butler. We all know he can single handily win them a playoff game/series. They have the size to guar Joel in Bam Adebayo, but they don’t have enough firepower to keep up with the Sixers and, honestly, not nearly enough talent. The Sixers should win in 5, but I would be sweating bullets if it somehow gets past that.
Atlanta Hawks (34-35, Current 8th seed)
The Hawks are trying to recreate the same magic when they knocked out the Sixers in 7 back in 2021. They have fired their head coach mid-season (this time, Nate McMillian was the culprit) and have hired Quinn Snyder to bring life into a highly disappointing season. Trae Young and Dejountee Murray are a good enough backcourt to compete, but can they get enough from their 3-D guys like DeAndre Hunter, Sadig Bey, and AJ Griffin to stay in games? I believe they match up well with the Sixers, but the difference is we have James Harden now, who can also close out games, which the Sixers struggled to do back in 2021, Sixers in 5
Toronto Raptors(34-36 Current 9th seed):
This team is worse than last year’s, which faced the Sixers in the playoffs. They were extremely close to blowing it up at the trade deadline and decided not to and got Jakob Poeltl. I don’t think the Raptors will make it to the seven seed, but if they do Sixers will be in five again.