76ers hold off Magic, keep hopes of avoiding play-in alive

PHILADELPHIA — Surviving both a Joel Embiid injury scare and a fourth-quarter push by the Orlando Magic, the Philadelphia 76ers took a significant step toward escaping the Eastern Conference play-in picture with a 125-113 victory over the Magic here at Wells Fargo Center Friday night.

Philadelphia (46-35) has now ripped off seven wins in a row and moved into a tie with the Magic — now losers of three straight — for sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings with just Sunday’s games left to be played. But all of 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 — came up limping and grabbing at that left knee after making a basket.

But after immediately walking to the locker room, Embiid returned for the start of the second half and hit a 3-pointer, eventually finishing with 32 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists in 32 minutes. He was aided by his co-star, Tyrese Maxey, who finished with 28 points, including a couple of buckets in a row inside the final five minutes after Orlando had gotten within six points to give the 76ers the breathing room needed to pull this one out.

Friday’s game here, however, was one of several across both conferences with massive ramifications for how the playoff picture will shake out, as Friday’s play opened with only three seeds having been decided with just two days of regular-season basketball left to be played.

The game with the biggest immediate impact on what happened here 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 shot at moving as high as the No. 2 seed with another win Sunday against Charlotte.

Meanwhile, in New York, the Knicks moved a step closer to guaranteeing themselves at least the third seed in the East with a 111-107 victory over their crosstown rivals, the Brooklyn Nets. Now, New York just needs a win over Chicago Sunday at Madison Square Garden to lock itself into at least the 3-seed. Here’s where things stand across the Eastern Conference heading into Sunday’s final day of regular-season action:

Boston is locked into the top seed.

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

– New York will be the third seed if the Bucks and Knicks both 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 and the Knicks win and Bucks lose.

– Cleveland will be the fourth seed if it loses or the Cavaliers, Bucks and Knicks all win. Milwaukee will be fourth if New York and Cleveland win and the Bucks lose. New York will be fourth if Knicks and Bucks lose and Cavaliers win.

– Orlando will finish fifth if it wins against Milwaukee, by virtue of winning the Southeast Division. Indiana will finish fifth if it wins against Atlanta and Orlando loses. Philadelphia will finish fifth if it wins and Indiana and Orlando both lose.

– Indiana will finish sixth if it wins and Orlando wins. Philadelphia will finish sixth if it wins and Indiana or Orlando loses.

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

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

– Chicago is locked into finishing ninth, and Atlanta is locked into finishing 10th.

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