Milwaukee loses again, Sixers close to playoff berth

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Spencer Hawes and the 76ers currently hold onto the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

It's getting close to the point of not wondering if the Sixers are going to make the playoffs, but who are they going to face.

The Milwaukee Bucks fell to the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, 118-109, its third-straight loss and dropping them to three full games behind the Sixers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers (32-30) and the Bucks both have four games remaining.

Each of the Sixers' remaining games are on the road: Saturday at Indiana, Monday in New Jersey, Wednesday in Milwaukee and Thursday in Detroit.

Milwaukee will host New Jersey on Saturday, Toronto on Monday and the Sixers on Wednesday before finishing out its season at Boston on Thursday.

Should the Sixers clinch that spot, they will face either the Chicago Bulls or Miami Heat. Chicago's lead in the Eastern Conference dropped to 1.5 games over Miami Thursday as the Heat beat the Bulls, 83-72 . In order to win the East, Miami would have to win out and Chicago would have to lose to a divisional foe. That would give Miami the second tiebreaker if the two teams finished with the same record. The first tiebreaker would be negated as the teams split their four meetings this season.

The Bulls (47-16) have just three games remaining, hosting Dallas on Saturday, at Indiana on Wednesday before hosting Cleveland on Thursday.

Miami (45-17), which beat the Sixers in five games in the first round of the playoffs last season, has four games left. The Heat wil host Washington on Saturday and Houston on Sunday before finishing out the season in Boston (Tuesday) and Washington (Thursday).

Should the Sixers make the playoffs the challenge that will await will obviously be a daunting one. While Miami has owned the Sixers over the past few years, Chicago has proven to be an interesting matchup. But the way the Sixers are playing right now, losers of 13 of their last 20, there is no matchup against any Easter playoff team that would be in the least bit favorable.

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