76ers hold off Magic, keep hopes of avoiding a game alive

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia 76ers survived a Joel Embiid injury scare and Orlando Magic fourth-quarter pressure, taking a significant step toward escaping the Eastern Conference playoff picture with a 125-113 win over the Magic here at Wells Fargo. Center on Friday night.

Philadelphia (46-35) has now reeled off seven straight wins and moved into a tie with the Magic — who have now lost three in a row — for sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings with only Sunday games remaining. But all that quickly faded into the background late in the second quarter, when Embiid — playing in his fifth game since returning from a left meniscus procedure last month — appeared limping and clutching his left knee after making a basket.

But immediately after entering the locker room, Embiid returned at the start of the second half and hit a three-pointer, eventually finishing the game with 32 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists in 32 minutes. He was helped by teammate Tyrese Maxey, who finished with a season-high 28 points, including a pair of back-to-back buckets over the final five minutes after Orlando had six points to give the 76ers the breathing room needed to make the point. Outside.

However, Friday's game here was one of several in both conferences with huge implications for how the playoff picture unfolds, as Friday's game opened with only three seeds decided with only two days of regular season basketball remaining.

The game that had the biggest immediate impact on what happened here on Friday was in Cleveland, where the Cavaliers got 33 points from Donovan Mitchell and 29 points and 13 rebounds from Jarrett Allen to beat the Indiana Pacers and give themselves a chance to move up. No. 2 seed with another win on Sunday against Charlotte.

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In New York, the Knicks came one step closer to securing at least third place in the Eastern Conference with a 111-107 victory over their rival Brooklyn Nets. Now, New York only needs to beat Chicago on Sunday at Madison Square Garden to at least lock themselves into third place. Here's where things stand across the Eastern Conference heading into the final day of the regular season on Sunday:

– Boston is confined to the first seed.

– Milwaukee will be the second seed if it beats Orlando. New York will be if it beats Chicago and Orlando will be if it beats Milwaukee. Cleveland will be if it beats Charlotte and both New York and Milwaukee lose.

– New York will be seeded third if the Bucks and Knicks win. Milwaukee will be the third seed if the Knicks win and the Bucks and Cavaliers lose. Cleveland will be the third seed if the Cavaliers win, the Knicks win, and the Bucks lose.

– Cleveland will be seeded fourth if the Cavaliers, Bucks and Knicks lose or win. Milwaukee will occupy fourth place if New York and Cleveland win and the Bucks lose. New York will finish fourth if the Knicks and Bucks lose and the Cavaliers win.

– Orlando will occupy fifth place if it wins over Milwaukee, by virtue of winning the Southeastern Division League. Indiana would finish fifth if it beats Atlanta and Orlando loses. Philadelphia would finish fifth if it won and both Indiana and Orlando lost.

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– Indiana will finish sixth if it wins and Orlando wins. Philadelphia would finish sixth if it won and either Indiana or Orlando lost.

– Philadelphia will occupy seventh place if it wins and both Orlando and Indiana win. Miami will occupy seventh place if the Heat beats the Toronto Raptors, the 76ers and Pacers win, and the Magic lose.

– Miami will finish eighth if the Heat, Magic, 76ers, and Pacers all lose or win.

– Chicago is locked in ninth place, and Atlanta is locked in tenth place.

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