nba playoffs

Should Top-Seeded Sixers Prefer Wizards or Pacers in Round 1?

The Sixers will get the winner of the final Eastern Conference play-in game

Pacers or Wizards? A look at the Sixers' potential 1st-round opponents originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

We are now down to two potential opponents the Sixers could face in their Eastern Conference first-round series: the eighth-seeded Washington Wizards and the ninth-seeded Indiana Pacers. Those teams will play Thursday night for the right to advance.

So, which team would you rather face? NBC Sports Philadelphia polled Sixers fans on Twitter:

Pretty close poll, and rightfully so. Neither team should pose a huge problem for a healthy Sixers team, and both the Wiz and Pacers are dealing with their fair share of injuries.

Let’s take a look at each matchup:

Wizards – 34-38 regular season record (0-3 vs Sixers)

Season series: The Sixers won all three head-to-head regular season matchups, but to say they had an easy time with the Wizards would be overstating things. They first met in each team’s season opener, a game the Sixers trailed by 10 points through three quarters before winning by four. Two weeks later, the Sixers won a 141-136 shootout despite 60 points from Bradley Beal. The third game was an easy one, a 26-point Sixers win without Ben Simmons (health and safety protocols).

Pros: The Sixers certainly have a distinct advantage at center, as the Wizards start Alex Len and back him up with second-year man Daniel Gafford and Robin Lopez. Beal scored 22 against Boston in the Wizards' play-in game loss, but he is struggling with a hamstring injury.

Cons: Despite Beal’s hamstring, he’s still the second-leading scorer in the league, and he’s shown he can light it up against the Sixers already this season. Russell Westbrook is always a tough matchup, but if the Sixers can keep him out of the lane and force him to shoot from outside, he can be minimized as a factor. Davis Bertans is always a three-point threat if he gets hot, but he was 0 for 7 from deep against the Celtics.

Pacers – 34-38 regular season record (1-2 vs Sixers)

Season series: In the team’s first matchup, the Sixers mounted a valiant comeback from 16 points down with nine minutes left to win, 119-110. It was the Sixers’ first win of the season in which Joel Embiid (back tightness) did not play. The second matchup had no such drama, an easy 130-114 Sixers win without Tobias Harris (right knee contusion). The final matchup was won by the Pacers, 103-94. Significant players were out on both sides, including Joel Embiid and Matisse Thybulle for the Sixers and Malcolm Brogdon and Myles Turner for the Pacers.  

Pros: The biggest thing going the Sixers’ way here is the relative health of the Pacers, or lack thereof. Warren is out for the season (foot), Turner will not play anytime soon (foot), Caris LeVert is sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols, and Brogdon is fighting a hamstring strain.

Cons: Domantas Sabonis has been dynamic as Indiana's games have gotten more and more important, averaging an otherworldly 25.2 points, 14.1 rebounds and 10.7 assists with three triple-doubles over his team’s last nine games, and he just missed another one against Charlotte in the Pacers' play-in win (14/21/9). Kelan Martin has been a find off the bench of late, averaging 14.5 points over his last six games while shooting 48.4 percent from three-point range.

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