The Philadelphia 76ers have to feel embarrassed over their current position. The Sixers are somehow in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, but have still fallen seven games behind the eighth-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. That has mainly been due to the Sixers’ own inadequacy, yet the Bucks are finally starting to take full advantage of it.
After beating the Utah Jazz in overtime on March 4, the Bucks have won four games in a row and have gotten back to two games over .500. They were in danger of being neck-and-neck with the Sixers for the eighth seed before the All-Star break, yet now they are coasting towards the postseason.
The Bucks used to be in the eighth spot by default, as they sunk under .500 after a hot start and even fired head coach Scott Skiles. But after Milwaukee rallied to beat Philadelphia on Feb. 13, it got its breathing room back and has pulled away from there after the All-Star break.
Given the Sixers’ collapse and how no one else in the East is making a run at the eighth seed, the Bucks didn’t really have to win. Even if Milwaukee was 28-30 instead of 30-28, it would still be a healthy five games ahead of Philadelphia. Yet it has become clearer than ever that the Sixers lost whatever open window they had to catch the Bucks.
The entire race seems useless anyway, considering that the No. 8 seed is in line to get slaughtered by the Miami Heat in the playoffs. However, the Bucks have surged so much that they have the No. 7 seeded Boston Celtics in their sights. The Celtics only lead the Bucks by one game -- and would lose more ground if the Sixers themselves beat them on March 5.
If the Sixers had done their job, the Bucks would never root for them to win because they would be too close. But now that Philadelphia is no better than a spoiler and has already helped Milwaukee enough, it might as well provide one more favor by beating Boston.