For the first time since 2001, the Philadelphia 76ers have the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Allen Iverson led the Sixers to the Finals that season, and now Joel Embiid will hope to repeat that feat. But before they start looking too far ahead, they’ll have to get through a first-round matchup with the Washington Wizards.
After a brutal 17-32 start, and half a dozen games postponed due to COVID-19, the Wizards appeared to be heading towards another lottery appearance. Instead, they surged down the stretch to get into the play-in tournament. There, they lost to the Boston Celtics but beat the Indiana Pacers to earn the No. 8 seed in the East.
Ahead of Game 1 between the Sixers and Wizards, here’s everything you need to know:
(1) Philadelphia 76ers vs. (8) Washington Wizards
- Date: Sunday, May 23 | Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Wells Fargo Arena — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- TV: TNT
- Odds: 76ers -7.5 | O/U: 228.5 (via William Hill Sportsbook)
Featured Game | Philadelphia 76ers vs. Washington Wizards
76ers: After a number of postseason failures, the Sixers made some big changes this offseason, both on and off the court. So far, they’ve paid off in a major way, as the Sixers earned the No. 1 seed in the East for the first time since 2001. They’re one of the favorites to win the Eastern Conference, and have by far the easiest path to the Eastern Conference finals out of the top three seeds. First up is the Wizards, who played extremely well down the stretch, but just do not have the depth to match up.
Wizards: A few months ago, things were going so poorly for the Wizards that there were daily Brad Beal trade rumors. Now, they’re the No. 8 seed in the East and preparing for a first-round playoff series. They got here by going 17-6 over the final six weeks of the season to earn a spot in the play-in tournament, where they lost to the Celtics and then beat the Pacers. It was a spirited run, but the truth is it’s hard to see them challenging the Sixers, especially with Bradley Beal less than 100 percent due to a hamstring injury.
The Sixers are 7.5-point favorites, which is a big number for a playoff game. As we saw on the first day, it’s tough to blow teams out in the postseason. Still, we’re going to ride with the Sixers here because they’re clearly the better team and are at home.