76ers vs. Pacers: NBA Season's Restart Begins for Sixers Saturday Night
On March 11, 2020, The Athletic's Shams Charania broke the news. Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert tested positive for the infamous COVID-19. Not even sixty seconds later, Adam Silver pulled the trigger on a decision nobody could've ever imagined. The 2019-2020 NBA season was postponed until further notice. Just like that, it was unclear if the Philadelphia 76ers were going to play another game this year.
The following day, the NBA announced an automatic 30-day suspension for the league as we were going to learn more about the coronavirus as a country. As it turned out, it was only just the beginning. Days, weeks, and months went by without the league able to come to a conclusion regarding the continuation or the cancellation of the season that was currently postponed.
Mixed reports were coming from many credible outlets, but only one rumor that was thrown out there really stuck. That was the possibility of having playoff eligible NBA teams enter a campus, bubble-like environment at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, to finish out the season. And after months of proposals and planning, the dreams became a reality. Now, the 76ers are officially set to restart the season on Saturday night.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Indiana Pacers
Location: Orlando, Florida
Time: 7:00 PM EST.
Odds: Sixers -5.5, O/U 213
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia +
Heading into the season's restart, the Philadelphia 76ers are currently behind the Indiana Pacers on the Eastern Conference's playoff bracket. While both teams possess the same 39-26 record, Indiana has the edge over the Sixers because of the result of head to head matchups throughout the year.
This season, the Sixers and the Pacers managed to face off against each other three out of four times before the suspension. As expected, the Sixers took care of business on their home court back in November. Once the team faced the Pacers in Indiana, though, the situation was much different.
In a way, it seems the Pacers have had the Sixers' number this season despite playing without their best player, Victor Oladipo. And this time around, the Sixers might not be as fortunate. Although he has yet to announce his status for Saturday's game, Oladipo is strongly considering playing in the NBA's restart -- and that could happen as early as Saturday night when the Pacers face the Sixers.
Fortunately for the Sixers, they will have Joel Embiid available as the team's big man was left off the injury report after missing the final two scrimmages this week. Getting Embiid back in the lineup means Al Horford will resume a role off the bench, and the Sixers will have the opportunity to trot out the new starting lineup in a regular-season matchup for the very first time this season.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_