When the Philadelphia 76ers realized they had a shot at obtaining the top seed in the Eastern Conference, they made it a priority to clinch it, not because they want to play the weakest teams at first, mainly because they want home-court advantage.
Now with that advantage, the Sixers won't have to hit the road for the first two games in any Eastern Conference round for the rest of the playoffs. On Sunday, the Sixers opened up the 2021 NBA Playoffs at home with a game against the Washington Wizards.
Sunday's game marked the first time the Sixers hosted over 11,000 fans since the NBA shut down last season. As expected, the environment was hostile for the visiting Wizards, and it didn't get any easier for them in Game 2.
At this point, the Wizards trail by two games. Fortunately for them, they will host the 76ers at the Capital One Arena for the first time this postseason. Not only will Washington have the advantage of playing in the comfort of their own homes, but they'll see an increase in fan capacity as well.
According to NBC Sports Washington, Capital One Arena will also increase fan capacity to at least 50-percent. So, nearly 10,000 fans will be in the building when the Sixers and the Wizards square off on Saturday night.
"Monumental Sports & Entertainment has been granted a waiver by D.C. officials to have 50 percent capacity at its upcoming home games, according to the Washington Post, a drastic increase from the previous capacity limit of 25 percent.
With the new capacity requirements in place, nearly 10,000 fans will be allowed to attend Saturday's playoff game, the Wizards' first home postseason contest since 2018."
Saturday will issue a good test for the 76ers. Despite being seeded higher and having a two-game lead over Washington, the Sixers haven't played a playoff game on the road since the Toronto series two years ago.
While the 76ers have a much-improved road record of 20-16, compared to last year's disappointing 12-26 record, they still have to prove they're capable of staying locked in and dominant when the crowd isn't rooting in their favor this weekend.