The Philadelphia 76ers faced the toughest opponent possible in the Miami Heat on March 13. Not only did the Sixers face a Heat team on an historic winning streak, they faced a team pulling away with the best record in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, the Sixers have to rebound against the East’s second best team on March 16.
The Sixers host an Indiana Pacers club that has been blown away by the Heat in the Eastern standings. In fact, Miami has a 10 1/2 game lead over Indiana for the East’s top seed after March 15. If that wasn’t enough, the Heat blew out the Pacers on March 10 for their first win over Indiana this season.
It has been a rough week for the Pacers, given that statement loss to the Heat and their loss to the Kobe Bryant-less Los Angeles Lakers on March 15. Indiana needs to take its frustration out on someone, and Philadelphia happens to be the ideal candidate right now.
The Sixers have their own Heat-related heartbreak to recover from, after coming so close to ending Miami’s winning streak on March 13. Following a loss like that, it would have been nice for Philadelphia to ease back in against an easier opponent. But the Sixers have lost twice to the Orlando Magic in recent weeks, so no opponent is easy for them at the moment.
Nevertheless, a back-to-back with the Heat and the Pacers is not ideal for any team, much less the struggling Sixers. The only upside is that Philadelphia had two days rest in between, whereas Indiana is playing 24 hours after losing to Los Angeles.
The Heat played the Sixers on short rest and nearly got upset, so perhaps the Pacers will be just as exhausted. Philadelphia could even go all the way and win this time, since Indiana isn’t Miami -- although that can now be said of almost every team in NBA history.
Regardless, the Pacers remain the second best team in the East, although that doesn’t mean too much these days. But for the Sixers, this is still the worst possible opponent to face right after their loss to the Heat. Logically, coming so close to beating Miami should bode well against Indiana, but Philadelphia has never been the most logical team.