The Philadelphia 76ers are Kings of the East once again.
With a 122-97 win over the Orlando Magic in the penultimate game of their season, the franchise clinched the No. 1 seed in the East for the 2021 playoffs.
🔔 @sdotcurry (20 points, 7-9 shooting) and the @sixers clinch the #1 seed in the East! #HereTheyCome pic.twitter.com/qGd5FwLGac- NBA (@NBA) May 15, 2021
Since Conferences were set up in 1971, it's only the fifth time that the franchise has entered the postseason atop the East and the first since 2001.
In three of the four previous instances, Philadelphia have reached the NBA Finals and hold a 1-2 record with their only championship as the No. 1 seed coming in 1983.
Over the past couple of months, multiple factors including Joel Embiid's injury absence after the All-Star break ensured the 76ers didn't run away with the top seed in the Conference and kept the likes of the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks in the hunt.
However, sealing the No. 1 seed ensures that Philadelphia avoids these two top-tier teams in the second round and will only have to face them, if it comes down to it, in the Eastern Conference Finals.
As the Conference's top team, the 76ers will compete in the first round of the playoffs against the eighth seed, as determined by the Play-In tournament which could be any one of these four teams - Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards.
With Miami, Atlanta and New York in a log jam for the fourth, fifth and sixth seed in the Conference, they will most likely have to wait until the regular-season finale to find out who they will play in the second round provided they take of business in the first.
Unless they get matched-up against the surging Heat in the second round, clinching the top seed also gives the 76ers the easiest path to the Conference Finals.
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