The NBA playoffs are finally here.

After the regular season extended into August with eight rounds of seeding games in the Orlando 'bubble' - followed by the Portland Trail Blazers' win in their play-in game - we have our 16 playoff teams.

The Milwaukee Bucks are the top seed in the East, while the Los Angeles Lakers led the way in the West.

But everything does not always go to script in the playoffs, with the Bucks on top last year, too, but losing out to eventual champions the Toronto Raptors - inspired by Kawhi Leonard, now of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Despite this unpredictable format, the Stats Perform AI team have been crunching the numbers behind the scenes and running 10,000 simulations.

Using this model, we have taken a look at how the coming weeks could pan out...
 

BUCKS AS CHAMPS? LAKERS WIN UNLIKELY

After another outstanding regular season and with Giannis Antetokounmpo in their ranks, it may come as no surprise the Bucks are favourites to take the title for just the second time.

What might be slightly more unexpected is the distance by which Milwaukee are considered the frontrunners.

According to our model, the Bucks have a 29.6 per cent chance of triumphing, winning 2,959 of the 10,000 simulations.

The Clippers are next on the list and would win the championship in 18 per cent of cases, while the Raptors' title defence stands a 13.6 per cent chance of being successful, just ahead of the Boston Celtics on 13.4 per cent.

That means the Lakers are way down in fifth on our list of contenders, despite boasting LeBron James and Anthony Davis and enjoying a strong season to date.

Indeed, LeBron's team won the playoff tournament in just 848 of the 10,000 simulations - or a measly 8.5 per cent.
 

ORLANDO COULD YET CONJURE UP SOME MAGIC

The Bucks have a great opportunity to win the championship and they will certainly be expected to get through their first-round series against the Orlando Magic, the eighth seed in the East.

But do not count the Magic out entirely at this stage.

Orlando will have their work cut out if they are to get anyway near the Finals, let alone take home the trophy, but not every simulation saw the local side make an early exit.

Of the 10,000 simulations, six (0.06 per cent) actually saw the Magic go all the way and claim a stunning title triumph.

Steve Clifford's team are unsurprisingly least likely to win the championship, although the eighth seed in the West, the Blazers, are ranked ahead of the Brooklyn Nets, who came seventh in the East.

The Philadelphia 76ers and Indian Pacers are each also given less than a one per cent chance of becoming champions.
 

BUCKS IN SEVEN AFTER CLIPPERS SWEEP LAKERS?!

The playoffs can often feel too random for any model to contend with, but what if we ran the simulation just once?

Well, in that scenario, the Bucks still came out on top, but they were pushed all the way to seven games by the Clippers, requiring a remarkable fightback after going 3-1 down in the Finals. They won Game 7 112-90, however.

Both teams had come into that series full of momentum after 4-0 sweeps in the Conference Finals.

Milwaukee brushed aside the Sixers, who beat the odds to come past the Celtics and then the Raptors, while the Clippers battered rivals the Lakers, winning each game by more than 10 points.

Besides Philadelphia's shock run, the biggest upset in the bracket saw the sixth-seeded Utah Jazz sensationally beat the third-seeded Denver Nuggets 4-0.

With the regular season over, it's time for business in the Orlando bubble.

The Portland Trail Blazers completed the NBA's playoff bracket with their play-in win against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.

Now, Giannis Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks, the LeBron-James led Los Angeles Lakers and Kawhi Leonard's Los Angeles Clippers are among the teams vying for supremacy at Walt Disney World Resort.

With the postseason scheduled to start on Monday, we use STATS data to preview the first-round series.

Eastern Conference

Milwaukee Bucks (1) v Orlando Magic (8)

Eyeing their first NBA championship since 1971, the Bucks head into the opening-round series struggling for form.

The Bucks, who went 52-8 from their first 60 games, recorded a 4-9 win-loss ratio from their last 13 fixtures – becoming the first team in NBA history to have more losses in their final 13 regular-season games than they did in the entire season prior to that.

Inside the bubble but in familiar surroundings, the Magic have the chance to snap a playoff drought, despite the odds being stacked against them.

Not since 2010 have the Magic won a playoff series. Orlando swept the Charlotte Bobcats and Atlanta Hawks en route to the Conference finals, before losing to the Boston Celtics. The Magic have since suffered first-round exits at the hands of the Hawks (2011), Indiana Pacers (2012) and Toronto Raptors (2019).

Toronto Raptors (2) v Brooklyn Nets (7)

Defending champions the Raptors have form on their side in pursuit of back-to-back championships.

Toronto went 27-5 over their last 32 games, easily the best record in the NBA during that period – ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder (21-10), Los Angeles Clippers (20-10), Bucks (20-11) and Celtics (21-13).

Nets star Spencer Dinwiddie has been one of the most clutch players this season, making an NBA-high seven go-ahead baskets in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime.

Dinwiddie's seven for 13 is better than the Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic (five), Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell and Jamal Murray of the Nuggets (both four).

Boston Celtics (3) v Philadelphia 76ers (6)

The Celtics renew hostilities with rivals the 76ers, having won the past four series between the two teams – Philadelphia have not claimed a series against Boston in the playoffs since 1982.

Philadelphia's hopes will rest on Joel Embiid in the absence of injured fellow All-Star Ben Simmons, who is the only player in NBA history to average 8.0-plus rebounds and 8.0-plus assists per game for his career.

The 76ers are 35-22 (.614 per cent) with Simmons in the team, while they are just 7-8 (.467 per cent) without the Australian star on the court. Philadelphia also allow more opposition points per game in his absence – 113.6 compared to 107.2.

Indiana Pacers (4) v Miami Heat (5)

All eyes will be on Indiana's T.J. Warren, who averaged 31.0 points per game with a .664 effective field-goal percentage this month following the restart.

Since 1985-86, the players with 30.0-plus points and a .650-plus effective field-goal percentage in a month (minimum five game played) are Charles Barkley (1990), Stephen Curry (2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019), Antetokounmpo (2017 and 2019) and Karl Anthony-Towns (2019).

With Heat pair Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson, Miami are the first NBA team to have two undrafted players averaging 13.0-plus points per game in the same season – minimum 70 per cent of team games played – since the Philadelphia Warriors in 1956-57 (Joe Graboski and Neil Johnston).

 

Western Conference

Los Angeles Lakers (1) v Portland Trail Blazers (8)

Making their first postseason appearance since 2013, the Lakers – who have a 74.6 per cent chance of winning this series using Stats Perform's advanced simulation tool – are one of the favourites to go all the way thanks to James and Anthony Davis.

James and Davis have combined well in LA, where the former has supplied 184 assists for the All-Star recruit this season – the most to one player in 2019-20, ahead of Damian Lillard to Hassan Whiteside (132). Three-time champion and four-time MVP James is also the second-oldest player to average 10 assists or more in a season in NBA history, with Steve Nash averaging 10.0-plus assists in each of his final three campaigns.

This will be the second playoff meeting between James and Carmelo Anthony. James and the Heat eliminated Anthony and the New York Knicks in the first round in 2012. Both averaged 27.8 points in the series. James was the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, while Anthony was the third pick. Their matchups date back to high school, when LeBron was at St. Vincent St. Mary's and Carmelo at Oak Hill Academy.

Portland's go-to man Lillard leads the NBA in scoring inside the bubble at 37.6 per game, including the play-in clash. The Trail Blazers star is averaging 46.3 points in his past four games following a career-high 61 against the Dallas Mavericks earlier this month. He has contributed to Portland averaging a league-high 126.0 points per game at Walt Disney World Resort, while the Lakers have only managed 106.4 points per game – the second worst behind the Washington Wizards.

How about most points per game by team-mate duos? Lillard and CJ McCollum (52.2) are second to James Harden and Russell Westbrook (61.5) but ahead of third-placed James and Davis (51.4).

Los Angeles Clippers (2) v Dallas Mavericks (7)

Can Leonard claim consecutive NBA titles after leading the Raptors to their first champion last season? Well it all begins against the Mavericks.

Leonard – the 2019 Finals MVP – averaged a career-high 27.1 points per game this season, while he averaged 30.5 during last year's playoffs. The four-time All-Star has also averaged 31.0 points per game in three games against the Mavericks this term, with the Clippers sweeping the season series.

Led by Luka Doncic, the Mavericks boast the second-highest offensive rating ever – 113.7 – behind last year's Golden State Warriors (113.9). The Clippers have a 111.1 rating, tied with the Trail Blazers for second this season.

Doncic is averaging 30.0 points, 10.1 assists and 9.7 rebounds in the bubble. The reigning Rookie of the Year also has three triple-doubles, including a 20-rebound triple-double.

Denver Nuggets (3) v Utah Jazz (6)

A Jazz team boasting the likes of Joe Ingles and Mitchell are the best three-point shooting team at 38.0 per cent, though Utah went 2-5 in their last seven regular-season games – allowing 110-plus points per game.

Rudy Gobert is also one shy of 250 career double-doubles as the Jazz look to avenge their season sweep at the hands of the Nuggets, though each game was decided by six or fewer points.

The Nuggets made the Conference semi-finals last season, snapping a five-year playoff drought. Jovic will be key for Denver, having averaged 7.0 assists per game for a second successive season – the most by any center in the NBA.

Houston Rockets (4) v Oklahoma City Thunder (5)

It will be a reunion as Harden, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul face their former teams.

The Rockets have advanced to at least the second round of the playoffs in three straight seasons and their hopes will depend on the team's starting five – their starters are averaging 89.1 points per game, the most in the league.

Former Thunder star Harden is also coming off his third consecutive season averaging 30 or more points per game (34.3 in 2019-20). He is the franchise's all-time leader in postseason assists (510) and second in points (2,061) behind Hakeem Olajuwon (3,727).

Westbrook, who arrived from the Thunder in a blockbuster trade at the start of the season, is second all-time for Oklahoma City in playoff points (2,489), behind Kevin Durant's 2,620, third in rebounds (686), first in assists (778) and first in steals (184).

The Thunder, boasting ex-Rockets guard Paul, have not progressed beyond the first round of the postseason since 2016 after blowing a 3-1 lead against the Warriors in the Conference Finals.

The Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Clippers were all victorious as the NBA's regular season concluded in Orlando on Friday.

Philadelphia's final game before their Eastern Conference first-round playoff blockbuster against the Boston Celtics on Monday saw the 76ers top the Houston Rockets 134-96.

Joel Embiid (14 points) overcame a wrist problem and played for the 76ers at Walt Disney World resort, where Tobias Harris (18), Al Horford (10), Alec Burks (16), Shake Milton (11), Mike Scott (10), Raul Neto (14) and Furkan Korkmaz (12) all had double-digit points.

The Rockets, who are set to meet the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference on Tuesday, were led by James Harden's 27 points and 10 assists.

Defending champions the Raptors, meanwhile, defeated the Denver Nuggets 117-109 behind Stanley Johnson's season-high 23 points.

Johnson scored 19 points in the second half, while Paul Watson put up a career-high 22 points for the in-form Raptors – who have won four games in a row and seven of their eight regular-season matchups in Florida.

The Raptors – second in the east – begin their playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday, while the Western Conference's Nuggets open against the Utah Jazz.

 

Mann impresses for Clippers

With Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Lou Williams rested, rookie Terance Mann stepped up as the Los Angeles Clippers outlasted the Thunder 107-103 in overtime. Mann had 25 points and 14 rebounds for a double-double, including the go-ahead three-pointer with less than three minutes remaining in OT. Amir Coffey contributed 21 points.

Hamidou Diallo's double-double of 27 points and 11 rebounds led the playoff-bound Thunder.

 

Robinson scoreless as Pacers cool Heat

Ahead of their upcoming first-round clash in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat lost 109-92 to the Indiana Pacers and Duncan Robinson struggled. Robinson was zero of three from the field, while he missed all three shots beyond the arc to go scoreless in 13 minutes. Trying to stay fit before the playoff matchup as both teams rested stars, the Heat lost Derrick Jones Jr. to a neck strain following a scary collision.

 

Harden with the behind-the-back pass

The 2018 MVP produced this assist for Rockets team-mate Jeff Green.

 

Friday's results

Toronto Raptors 117-109 Denver Nuggets
Indiana Pacers 109-92 Miami Heat
Los Angeles Clippers 107-103 Oklahoma City Thunder (OT)
Philadelphia 76ers 134-96 Houston Rockets

 

Grizzlies face Trail Blazers

The Western Conference play-in clash will see the Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers go head-to-head on Saturday. A win for the Trail Blazers will secure a first-round matchup against the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers. Memphis have to go 2-0 in the play-in tournament.

Joel Embiid exited the Philadelphia 76ers' game against the Toronto Raptors with a wrist injury, leaving Brett Brown waiting to learn how serious it might prove.

Center Embiid left the game in the first half after being hit on the wrist and did not return, the Sixers going on to succumb to a 125-121 loss on Wednesday.

The three-time All-Star, who was returning after sitting out against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday with an ankle injury, is reportedly not expected to be out long term after X-rays came back negative.

Speaking after the game, 76ers coach Brown said: "I really don't know a lot to share. I do know it was whacked twice. As it relates to what's next, or the evaluation of it, I am sorry, I can't comment on that."

The defeat meant Philadelphia are guaranteed to finish as the number six seed in the Eastern Conference and face the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

This season was the first since 2013-14 in which the 76ers had won their season series against the Celtics, who defeated them in the 2018 Eastern Conference semifinals.

Brown is looking forward to the challenge of going up against Boston coach Brad Stevens.

"I've got a lot of respect for Brad. We have had tons of experiences, regular season, playoffs, over the past few years," said Brown.

"I think their team is very unique, in that there is so much firepower at several positions. You know the Philly-Celtics rivalry is historic.

"We are excited and treat this series with tremendous respect. We are excited to compete against them."

The Los Angeles Clippers bounced back in the NBA on Wednesday, while James Harden starred in a loss.

Coming off a defeat to the Brooklyn Nets, the Clippers outclassed the Denver Nuggets 124-111.

Paul George and Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers, while Lou Williams impressed off the bench.

George (27 points), Leonard (26) and Williams (23) top-scored for the Clippers.

Harden had 45 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists, but the Houston Rockets fell to the Indiana Pacers 108-104.

The Rockets were without Russell Westbrook, who is battling a quad injury.

 

Turner records double-double, Lowry leads Raptors

Myles Turner's double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds guided the Pacers.

Kyle Lowry led an even Toronto Raptors performance with 19 points in a 125-121 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Chris Boucher went seven-of-12 from the field for 19 points off the bench for the Raptors.

 

Horrible Holiday

Aaron Holiday struggled for the Pacers. The guard was one-of-11 from the field for just two points in 25 minutes.

 

Comeback kings

Darius Bazley scored 16 points in the fourth quarter as the Oklahoma City Thunder edged the Miami Heat 116-115. It marked the 17th time this season the Thunder have trailed entering the fourth quarter and won, the equal most in a season in the shot-clock era (since 1954-55). They joined the 1962-63 Los Angeles Lakers, 1990-91 San Antonio Spurs and 2007-08 Cleveland Cavaliers, as per STATS.

Wednesday's results

Indiana Pacers 108-104 Houston Rockets
Toronto Raptors 125-121 Philadelphia 76ers
Oklahoma City Thunder 116-115 Miami Heat
Los Angeles Clippers 124-111 Denver Nuggets

 

All eyes on Western Conference

The Portland Trail Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs are in action on Thursday, looking to claim seeds eight and nine in the Western Conference to get into the play-in.

Damian Lillard produced an incredible performance to lift the Portland Trail Blazers, while Giannis Antetokounmpo was ejected in the NBA on Tuesday.

Lillard scored 61 points to guide the Trail Blazers past the Dallas Mavericks 134-131 and into eighth place in the Western Conference.

The guard was in stunning form, going nine-of-17 from three-point range at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Carmelo Anthony (26 points) provided some support for Lillard as Portland boosted their playoff chances.

Kristaps Porzingis scored 36 points for the Mavericks, while Luka Doncic had a double-double of 25 points and 10 assists.

Antetokounmpo was ejected in the second quarter of the Bucks' 126-113 win over the Washington Wizards.

The reigning NBA MVP head-butted Moritz Wagner, having scored 12 points and had nine rebounds in 10 minutes.

Brook Lopez finished with 24 points for the Bucks.

 

Booker leads in-form Suns, Tatum shines

Devin Booker had 35 points and nine rebounds as the Phoenix Suns beat the Philadelphia 76ers 130-117 for a seventh straight win.

Jayson Tatum helped the Boston Celtics past the Memphis Grizzlies 122-107 thanks to 29 points.

In the same game, Ja Morant had 26 points and 13 assists for the Grizzlies.

Harrison Barnes' 25 points and eight rebounds helped the Sacramento Kings edge the New Orleans Pelicans 112-106.

 

Awful Augustin

D.J. Augustin struggled from the field, going one-of-eight for just six points in the Orlando Magic's 108-96 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

 

Amazing Lillard

Lillard had his third game this season with 60-plus points and five-plus assists and no player has had more than two such games in their career since the merger, according to STATS.

Tuesday's results

Brooklyn Nets 108-96 Orlando Magic
San Antonio Spurs 123-105 Houston Rockets
Phoenix Suns 130-117 Philadelphia 76ers
Boston Celtics 122-107 Memphis Grizzlies
Portland Trail Blazers 134-131 Dallas Mavericks
Sacramento Kings 112-106 New Orleans Pelicans
Milwaukee Bucks 126-113 Washington Wizards

 

Clippers face Nuggets

Coming off a loss to the Nets, the Los Angeles Clippers (47-23) take on the Denver Nuggets (46-25) on Wednesday.

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown is optimistic All-Star Joel Embiid will return to the court before the NBA playoffs get underway.

Embiid will sit out Philadelphia's clash against the Phoenix Suns in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday due to an ankle injury.

The three-time All-Star hurt his left ankle in the opening quarter of Sunday's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers at Walt Disney World Resort.

Philadelphia – sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 42-28 record – conclude their regular-season campaign against defending champions the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday and the Houston Rockets on Friday.

Brown, though, is hopeful Embiid will play prior to the postseason, telling reporters on Monday: "I do expect him to [play before playoffs], that's just one man’s opinion.

"Nobody's doing cartwheels over if something severe, but I do believe it would be good for him to play for the playoffs begin."

Embiid has been averaging 23.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game for the 76ers this season.

Meanwhile, fellow 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons underwent surgery and is expected to miss the remainder of the campaign.

The 76ers said Simmons had surgery to remove a loose body in his left knee, with the Australian set to begin rehabilitation in Philadelphia immediately.

 

Damian Lillard was determined not to let another game slip away as he bounced back from defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers with a 51-point game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Portland Trail Blazers point guard Lillard missed a pair of free throws and also a three-pointer in the closing seconds of his team's reverse to the Clippers on Saturday.

The five-time NBA All-Star then became involved in a social media spat with Clippers duo Paul George, who had waved from the bench after the finish to the game, and Patrick Beverley, but was back down to business on the court on Sunday.

His performance helped the Blazers move to within half-a-game of the eighth-placed Memphis Grizzlies - who lost to the Toronto Raptors - in the race to make the playoffs in the Western Conference.

"After the game, I was irritated with myself, I was frustrated. But it is what it is," Lillard said of Saturday's setback.

"I talked to one of my best friends and he said, 'It is what it is, this happened for a reason. You've had a lot of big moments and you usually come out on top, so you've got to expect to be some kind of balance, you've got to expect to come up against some adversity'.

"I knew we had a chance to get back on the court today, so I moved on from it faster than if it wasn't a back-to-back."

He later added during the post-match media call: "Definitely coming into tonight after yesterday, I knew how important it was to win the game. 

"We let one slip yesterday that we should have had and I'm a big part of why it got away from us. Tonight, I said that wasn't going to happen."

Lillard went 16-for-28 from the floor and hit 15 of his 16 free throws, helping the Blazers prevail 124-121 against a Philadelphia team who lost Joel Embiid during the first quarter.

"I don't think anyone thinks anything less of Dame because he missed free throws," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said of Lillard's performance.

"Tonight, he showed his determination and will that he's shown throughout his career."

Portland are back in action on Tuesday, as they take on the Dallas Mavericks. 

The Brooklyn Nets upstaged the Los Angeles Clippers 129-120, despite Kawhi Leonard's big performance in the NBA on Sunday.

Leonard posted a game-high 39 points for the Clippers but it was not enough against the Nets in Orlando, Florida.

Caris LeVert put up 27 points and 13 assists as the Nets clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.

Joe Harris added 25 points of his own for the Nets at Walt Disney World Resort, where team-mate Jarrett Allen (16 points, 16 rebounds) finished with a double-double.

Damian Lillard, meanwhile, dropped 51 points to inspire the Portland Trail Blazers to a 124-121 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Lillard made 16 of 28 shots and 15 from 16 free throws to lift the Trail Blazers past the 76ers and within a half-game of the Memphis Grizzlies for eighth place in the Western Conference.

It was Lillard's fifth game of 50-plus points this season – tying Houston Rockets star James Harden – with all of those performances coming against teams that made the playoffs last year

Per STATS, the last player to have five 50-point games against postseason teams from the previous campaign was Michael Jordan (6) in 1986-87.

 

Career-high night for Rivers

Austin Rivers had a game to remember as the Rockets soared past the Sacramento Kings 129-112. The Rockets guard registered a career-high 41 points off the bench. Rivers is the first player in NBA history to score 40-plus points, make six or more three-pointers and shoot 70.0-plus per cent from the field off the bench in a game, per STATS. Harden contributed 32 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Rockets.

Gordon Hayward's 31-point display helped the Boston Celtics top the Orlando Magic 122-119 in overtime. Jayson Tatum scored 29, including the tying basket with 4.2 seconds remaining in regulation.

Defending champions the Toronto Raptors secured the Eastern Conference second seed and their fifth consecutive season with at least 50 wins after outlasting the Grizzlies. Pascal Siakam had 26 points.

The San Antonio Spurs and their hopes of becoming the first team in NBA history to reach the playoffs for 23 straight seasons remain alive after emerging 122-113 winners against the New Orleans Pelicans. San Antonio are 10th in the west, half a game adrift of Portland for the ninth spot, which would secure a play-in series.

 

Pelicans eliminated from postseason race, Wizards winless in bubble

Zion Williamson will have to wait another year for playoff basketball after the Pelicans lost to the Spurs. Despite 31 points and a season-high eight three-pointers from JJ Redick, the Pelicans – coupled with Portland's win – were eliminated from postseason contention.

The Washington Wizards' woes continued after falling to a 121-103 defeat against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Washington are the only winless team remaining in Orlando, having gone 0-6 since the restart.

 

Dame with the four-point play!

After struggling against the Clippers, Lillard came up big for the Trail Blazers in their meeting with the 76ers. A spectacular four-point play with less than three minutes remaining catapulted the Blazers into the lead.

Sunday's results

Houston Rockets 129-112 Sacramento Kings
Portland Trail Blazers 124-121 Philadelphia 76ers
Boston Celtics 122-119 Orlando Magic (OT)
San Antonio Spurs 122-113 New Orleans Pelicans
Toronto Raptors 108-99 Memphis Grizzlies
Oklahoma City Thunder 121-103 Washington Wizards
Brooklyn Nets 129-120 Los Angeles Clippers

 

Raptors face Bucks

It will be an epic encounter as the Eastern Conference's two best teams meet on Monday. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the top-ranked Milwaukee Bucks take on the in-form Raptors.

Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons will undergo surgery on his left knee to repair an injury he suffered on Wednesday, the team announced on Saturday.  

The 76ers did not announce a timetable for Simmons' return but ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported they have not given up hope that the former number one overall pick could return in the case of a deep playoff run.  

The most likely outcome, however, is that Simmons' 2019-20 season is finished. 

Simmons left Philadelphia's game against the Washington Wizards midway through the third quarter after suffering the injury while trying to grab a loose ball.

He was diagnosed with a subluxation of the left patella – a partial dislocation of the kneecap. Further testing discovered a loose body in the knee, prompting Simmons, the team and their medical staff to choose surgery as the best treatment option.  

Even under the most optimistic return scenario for the two-time All-Star, the news is a major blow to the title chances of a talented but inconsistent 76ers team.  

Simmons is averaging 16.4 points, 8.0 assists and 7.8 rebounds this season, and his 35.4 minutes per game leads the team.  

He recently had his role on the team changed, starting at power forward instead of point guard, where coach Brett Brown added Shake Milton to the starting five.

It is likely that Philadelphia will add Al Horford to the starting lineup.  

The 76ers are 35-22 this season with Simmons in the lineup and 7-5 when he sits out, although their offense has been slightly more efficient with Simmons on the bench.

Philadelphia are 3-1 in the NBA's restart in Orlando but their toughest opponents still lie ahead. They have clinched a playoff spot and cannot fall lower than the number six seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Boston Celtics crushed the Toronto Raptors in the NBA on Friday, while the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference were secured.

The Celtics were too good for the Raptors 122-100 after another even team performance at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Jaylen Brown scored 20 points, with Boston seeing seven players in double-digits for points.

Jayson Tatum (18 points) and Kemba Walker (17) were among them as the Celtics improved to 46-23.

Toronto struggled in defeat, with Fred VanVleet going four-of-14 from the field for his 13 points.

The Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic clinched playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

The Nets were too good for the Sacramento Kings 119-106, while Orlando lost to the Philadelphia 76ers, but secured their spot after the Washington Wizards' loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

 

Harris, Embiid lift 76ers as Holiday shines

Tobias Harris (23 points and 15 rebounds) and Joel Embiid (23 points and 13 rebounds) saw the 76ers to their 108-101 win over Orlando.

Jrue Holiday went 11-of-16 from the field for 28 points in the Pelicans' 118-107 victory against the Wizards.

The San Antonio Spurs beat the Utah Jazz 119-111 thanks to 24 points from Derrick White.

 

Gilgeous-Alexander wayward

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander went three-of-13 from the field as the Oklahoma City Thunder were well beaten by the Memphis Grizzlies 121-92.

 

Brilliant Brown pass

Brown delivered a wonderful pass to Gordon Hayward in the Celtics' win.

Friday's results

San Antonio Spurs 119-111 Utah Jazz
Memphis Grizzlies 121-92 Oklahoma City Thunder
Brooklyn Nets 119-106 Sacramento Kings
Philadelphia 76ers 108-101 Orlando Magic
New Orleans Pelicans 118-107 Washington Wizards
Boston Celtics 122-100 Toronto Raptors

 

Lakers face Pacers

The Los Angeles Lakers (51-17) will be aiming to bounce back from back-to-back losses when they face the Indiana Pacers (42-27) on Saturday.

Ben Simmons is out indefinitely after suffering a subluxation of the left patella in the Philadelphia 76ers' 107-98 win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.

A subluxation is a partial and temporary dislocation, and similar injuries reportedly require a recovery period of several weeks. 

"This one stings for sure," Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said on Thursday. "We all felt like, with the pandemic and are we going to play again, it obviously bought time for Ben.

"In relation to sort of being incredibly down about it, I'm not. I feel numb to it."

Simmons was injured in the third quarter against the Wizards, appearing to tweak his knee after grabbing his sixth rebound of the game. At the next stoppage of play, he limped straight to the locker room. 

He is now looking at treatment options, and Brown expects the team will be able to put a timeline on his rehab by Friday.

"Some of the information is fluid, it's still moving," Brown said. "In relation to saying any type of deadline, timeline, playoff, whatever, I'm not in a position to offer anything. Not because we don't want to, but stuff is still being evaluated.

"What I do know — it's boring, but we play Orlando [Magic] tomorrow and we don't have him. That's kind of all I know at this point."

In his third full season in the NBA in 2019-20, the 24-year-old Simmons made his second All-Star team, averaging 16.4 points, 8.0 assists and 7.8 rebounds in 57 games. The 76ers went 35-22 with Simmons in the lineup, and 6-5 in games he did not play. 

"Ben is an incredible player, an incredible athlete," Sixers point guard Shake Milton said. "A superhuman. So hopefully he's able to heal superfast and get back out on the court, because we need him."

Philadelphia have already clinched a playoff berth and entered Thursday's play a game back of the Indiana Pacers for the Eastern Conference's fifth seed. 

The Philadelphia 76ers are waiting to discover the extent of a knee injury Ben Simmons suffered in a 107-98 NBA victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.

Simmons left the court in the third quarter, having appeared to tweak his knee after taking a rebound.

The two-time All-Star limped to the locker room and was unable to return.

Philadelphia coach Brett Brown was unsure over how much damage the Australian point guard has done after the game.

"We don't know," Brown said. "I'm sure the club will make some announcement.

"But as far as knowing more than that, I don't. Obviously I'm very curious."

The 76ers are back in action against the Orlando Magic on Friday.

The Los Angeles Lakers were well beaten in the NBA on Wednesday, while Joel Embiid led the Philadelphia 76ers to a win.

With the top seed in the Western Conference secured, the Lakers went down to the Oklahoma City Thunder 105-86.

LeBron James (19 points) and Anthony Davis (nine) went a combined 10-of-30 from the field as the Lakers shot at just 35.2 per cent.

Chris Paul top-scored in the Thunder's victory with 21 points.

Embiid's double-double of 30 points and 11 rebounds saw the 76ers past the Washington Wizards 107-98.

Philadelphia suffered a setback during their win, with Ben Simmons hurting his knee in the third quarter.

 

Even Celtics shine as Gobert lifts Jazz

The Boston Celtics had seven players in double-digits for points in a 149-115 thrashing of the Brooklyn Nets. Jaylen Brown (21), Jayson Tatum (19), Gordon Hayward (18) and Robert Williams III (18) led the way.

Rudy Gobert had a double-double of 21 points and 16 rebounds in the Utah Jazz's 124-115 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Fred VanVleet went eight-of-13 from the field for 21 points, to go with 10 assists, in the Toronto Raptors' 109-99 win against the Orlando Magic.

 

Davis struggles

Davis has been in good form for the Lakers, but the forward was three-of-11 from the field in their loss.

 

Diallo dunk

Hamidou Diallo delivered a huge dunk in the Thunder's win.

Wednesday's results

Utah Jazz 124-115 Memphis Grizzlies
Philadelphia 76ers 107-98 Washington Wizards
Denver Nuggets 132-126 San Antonio Spurs
Oklahoma City Thunder 105-86 Los Angeles Lakers
Toronto Raptors 109-99 Orlando Magic
Boston Celtics 149-115 Brooklyn Nets

 

Lakers face Rockets

The Lakers (51-16) will try to bounce back on Thursday in a blockbuster clash with the Houston Rockets (42-25).

Brett Brown was unsure about the severity of Ben Simmons' knee injury in the Philadelphia 76ers' win over the Washington Wizards.

Simmons left Wednesday's 107-98 victory in the third quarter after hurting his knee.

The two-time All-Star had eight points, six rebounds and four assists before the injury.

Philadelphia head coach Brown was waiting to hear more about how serious Simmons' injury was.

"We don't know. I'm sure the club will make some announcement," he said.

"But as far as knowing more than that, I don't. Obviously I'm very curious."

The 76ers are sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 41-27 record.

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