Philadelphia 76ers secure playoff spot

Philadelphia 76ers secure playoff spot

The Philadelphia 76ers have officially punched their ticket to the playoffs with their victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday evening. It was a tight affair, but the 76ers managed to come away with the 112-108 win at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, despite some controversial officiating.

The Cavaliers were left furious with the referees following the contest.

“That game was taken from us,” Cleveland head coach J.B.Bickerstaff said after his team’s loss, via TSN. “We deserved to win it. The one thing you can’t defend is the free-throw line and that’s absurd. Our guys deserved way better than they got tonight.

“They’re great players and they understand how to play through the rules,” he continued. “They know how to manipulate the rules. This is no knock or disrespect to those guys. But the game has to be consistent on both ends of the floor. We were searching for that consistency and we never found it.

76ers superstar Joel Embiid was listed as questionable heading into the contest, but he ended up playing 38 minutes and an important role in his team’s win. He ended the contest with 17 rebounds, three assists and 44 points, demonstrating why many believe he should be named this season’s NBA MVP.

“If it happens, great,” Embiid said of potentially winning his first MVP award. “If it doesn’t, I don’t know what I have to do. I’ll feel like they hate me. I feel like the standard for guys in Philly or for me is different than everyone else.”

The impact that Embiid is able to make on the court hasn’t been lost on his teammates either, who have consistently suggested throughout the campaign that the 28-year-old is worthy of the league’s most prestigious individual award.

“I get to witness his greatness every night,” James Harden said of Embiid. “Obviously, his offensive numbers tonight are self-explanatory. Defensively, he was very active blocking shots, changing shots and clogging the paint up was key.”

It hasn’t been a particularly easy season for Embiid or the 76ers, with the club having to deal with the drama surrounding Ben Simmons for most the year. His head coach Doc Rivers credits the veteran for helping his team navigate through the difficult times.

“I know he’s my guy, obviously,” Rivers commented pregame. “He has just has done so many things.”

“He was our second-best player at the time and was out,” Rivers said of Simmons. “And at the All-Star break when we made the trade, we were a game out of first place in the East. There’s a lot to be said about that.”

Philadelphia were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs last year by the Atlanta Hawks and are looking to get to at least the Eastern Conference finals this year for the first time since 2001, when they fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in the final. The acquisition of Harden prior to the trade deadline was a clear signal of intent from the organization that they believe they have what it requires to get the job done in the postseason.