Philadelphia 76ers Could Benefit From an Altered NBA Playoff Schedule
It's unclear if the NBA will return to action to conclude the 2019-2020 NBA season. If there is one that that's clear if the season does resume, it's that this year's playoff scenario will be much different than usual.
Time is an issue at the moment. Typically, the NBA playoffs would've started last month and would conclude in June. At this point, we're two weeks into May, and teams haven't even started ramping up another training camp to return to action just yet.
There's hope that teams can start practicing in full at some point next month, but that still doesn't change the fact that the 2020 NBA Playoff schedule will more than likely be altered. If that's the case, then would the Eastern Conference's sixth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers benefit from the change? Or are they in a tougher spot?
Sports Illustrated's Michael Shapiro recently analyzed the situation. Out of 16 playoff teams, Shapiro highlighted six of them, categorizing three as winners -- and three as losers. For the 76ers, they could come out as winners in this scenario.
"Perhaps we have conditioning questions about Joel Embiid, but the Sixers'' firepower makes them legitimately dangerous in a short series, regardless of opponent," Shapiro wrote on Thursday. [Joel Embiid] can take over a contest with a 40-point effort, and never discount the chance of a dominant night from Ben Simmons. Brett Brown's squad is quite dangerous against any team in a three or five-game series. They're downright terrifying in a single-elimination matchup."
If the playoffs were to start without any other regular-season games played, the Sixers would face the third-seeded Boston Celtics. Philly didn't bode well against Boston two postseasons ago, but recent history says the Sixers are quite dominant against the Celtics as they've won three out of four games against them this season.
Had the Sixers headed into the playoffs without their All-Star point guard Ben Simmons, then the team would have to rely heavily on Joel Embiid, whose health is not to be trusted in the postseason. However, the Sixers are confident that won't be the case if and when the season resumes as Simmons is recovering well from his back injury.
Really, the only negative factor playing against the 76ers in an altered playoff scenario is the lack of home-court advantage. If the NBA season resumes, there's an excellent chance that all games are played at a neutral location without fans.
While the Sixers were the NBA's best team at home, they struggled a ton on the road. A fan-less game might not give the Sixers the upper-hand against opponents, but at least every other team is dealing with the same issue in this case.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_