Sixers Lose Key Bench Player vs. Pacers: Playoff Matchups Examined

Georges Niang, Doc Rivers

Getty Sixers forward Georges Niang is dealing with left knee patella tendinopathy.

The Philadelphia 76ers won’t have a key bench player for Saturday’s game. Georges Niang has been ruled out versus the Indiana Pacers with left knee patella tendinopathy, per the NBA injury report.

Niang has been one of the best surprises for the Sixers this season after inking a two-year deal in free agency. He is averaging 9.2 points in 22.8 minutes per game while shooting 43.7% from the field. The stretch forward ranks third on the team in both three-point percentage (40.3%) and three-point attempts (5.1). Known as The Minivan, Niang has injected life into a Sixers’ bench that has looked to be on life support at times.

Head coach Doc Rivers admitted Niang was dealing with a bit of “dead legs” last month following a tough loss to Denver at Wells Fargo Center. The 28-year-old quickly put those fears to rest and shot himself out of a tiny slump.

The knee injury? This is something new. The Mayo Clinic describes left knee patella tendinopathy as such:

Patellar tendinitis is a common overuse injury, caused by repeated stress on your patellar tendon. The stress results in tiny tears in the tendon, which your body attempts to repair.

But as the tears in the tendon multiply, they cause pain from inflammation and weakening of the tendon. When this tendon damage persists for more than a few weeks, it’s called tendinopathy.

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Playoff Picture Coming Into Focus for Philly

The Sixers have already clinched their playoff ticket, so the topic turns to potential first-round opponents. They currently hold the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and would face the Toronto Raptors. Not a great matchup for them, looking at the regular-season results.

According to Playoff Status, the Sixers have a 46% chance of seeing the Raptors in the first round. The other likely option would be the Chicago Bulls (54%). Philly can move up to the No. 3 seed if they win their final two games — vs. Indiana (April 9), vs. Detroit (April 10) — coupled with the Grizzlies beating Boston on Sunday.

Here’s how the Sixers have fared against possible playoff opponents this season: 1-3 vs. Raptors; 4-0 vs. Bulls; 4-0 vs. Cavaliers; 1-3 vs. Brooklyn Nets.

Rivers was asked if the Raptors have his number following a 119-114 loss to them on Thursday night. He didn’t seem too concerned despite the losing record.

“I don’t think they have [our number],” said Rivers. “Like I said before the game. We will roll it up with anybody that wants us in the first round. That’s how we feel.”

Delaware Blue Coats Headed to Conference Finals

The Delaware Blue Coats are headed to the Conference Finals. The Sixers’ G League affiliate defeated the Motor City Cruise 124-116 behind 58 combined points from Jaden Springer (30) and Charlie Brown Jr. (28). Myles Powell added 22 points in the win.

Ironically, the Blue Coats will face Raptors 905 for the right to advance to the G League Finals. Delaware made it to the championship round last season but lost 97-78 to the Lakeland Magic in the championship game.

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