The 76ers kept the win-streak intact. And the third seed, too.
Justin Anderson had a season-high 25 points, and Markelle Fultz became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double — his first — as the Sixers hammered the Milwaukee Bucks, 130-95, in Wednesday night’s regular-season finale at the Wells Fargo Center. They ended the season with 16 straight victories, extending their franchise record. And they clinched their desired Eastern Conference No. 3 seed in the upcoming NBA playoffs.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Ben Simmons said of the blowout. “I just knew coming in we were ready.”
Now, they’ll face the Miami Heat in the first round. Game 1 is set for Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center at 8 p.m.
The Sixers finished the regular season with a 52-30 mark, their best record since finishing 56-26 in the 2000-01 campaign. The Bucks finished with a 44-38 record and dropped to the seventh seed.
The Sixers would have kept the third seed even with a loss, because the fourth-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers lost at home to the New York Knicks. The setback dropped the Cavs (50-32) two games back in the standings.
But it was obvious from the start that the Sixers were destined to clinch the third seed.
They shot 72.7 percent on three-pointers in the first quarter en route to a 46-18 lead. They went on to take a commanding 41-point lead (70-29) after Dario Saric’s 4-foot floater with 5 minutes, 7 seconds left in the second quarter.
“They jumped into this game in a big way early,” Brett Brown said
The home team took an 80-44 lead at intermission. The 80 points were a floor record for points scored in a half. The Sixers shot 49.5 percent from the field and 41.7 percent on three-pointers for the game.
They did their damage minus two of their starters — Joel Embiid and JJ Redick.
This marked the eighth consecutive game that Embiid has missed after fracturing the orbital bone near his left eye and suffering a concussion against the New York Knicks on March 28.
Redick was a late scratch with lower-back tightness.
“We’ve got a lot of talent,” Anderson said. “This team is loaded. As you can see, you can throw anybody in . … We’re loaded from top to bottom.”
There’s no denying that reserves Anderson and Fultz were the most impressive players on the court.
One night after not having his number called, Anderson dominated the Bucks. The swingman scored on an array of dunks and three-pointers, making 9 of 17 shots, including 5 of 12 behind the arc. His three-pointers made and attempts were career highs. He played nearly 32 minutes, a season-high.
“It just felt good to get out there and share this with the team,” Anderson said. “Whatever happens from here, everything is about the team. It’s a collective effort.
“And I want to make sure I put myself in a position to help whenever my name is called.”
Fultz finished with 13 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds, two steals, and one block. It was the first-overall pick’s 10th game back after missing 68.
The 19-year-old has regained his confidence, and it’s benefiting the Sixers.
Marco Belinelli, who started in place of Redick, scored 13 points.
Saric finished with 24 points after being listed as probable with a chipped tooth. Reserves Richaun Holmes (19 points) and T.J. McConnell (16) were the Sixers’ other double-digit scorers.
Ben Simmons had four points, seven assists, and six rebounds in 22 minutes. He and starters Robert Covington (five points), Amir Johnson (eight), and Belinelli sat out the fourth quarter.
Milwaukee all-star forward Gianis Antetokounmpo had 10 points on 5-for-14 shooting. Jabari Parker paced the Bucks with 25 points in a reserve role.
On Saturday, the Sixers will make their first postseason appearance since the 2011-12 season.
The Sixers and Heat (44-38) split their four regular-season meetings, with Miami winning the final two. Each team won their home games.
In their last game, on March 8, the Sixers had no answers for Hassan Whiteside. The Miami center had a game-high 26 points on 9-for-12 shooting in the 108-99 victory. He also finished with eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
“We are going to clean up on things,” Johnson said. “We had some good battles with this team. We realize mistakes we made, and we’ve just got to be better at it.”