MILWAUKEE - Game 65 of 66, with a playoff spot already secured and an opponent playing for nothing, had about as much intensity as a day at the beach. Still, the game had to be played, and the 76ers junior varsity was better than that of the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Sixers pulled out an 90-85 win.
Though no one in the 76ers organization would say so, playing the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs is much more preferred than having to face the Miami Heat for the second straight year.
But wins by both the Sixers and New York on Wednesday means the two are still tied for the seventh spot in the East, though the Knicks own the tiebreaker.
Should the Sixers and Knicks both win or both lose Thursday, the Sixers will get the Bulls. If the Sixers win in Detroit and the Knicks lose in Charlotte, the Sixers will play the Heat.
The Sixers were severely shorthanded against the Bucks by their own choice. Starters Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand, along with sub Thaddeus Young, were left back in Philadelphia to rest their bodies, and Lou Williams, though with the team, was in street clothes.
Milwaukee also was limited as leading scorer Monta Ellis, along with Carlos Delfino, Drew Gooden, and Ersan Ilyasova, were all spectators.
"In these last two games I sat Lou tonight and probably Jrue [Holiday] against Detroit [Thursday]," said Sixers coach Doug Collins. "I didn't want them traveling. Those three guys will go to PCOM [the Sixers' practice facility] and do some things. I want them to be fresh.
"I probably would have done it with Lou, but I told him I wanted him here getting in some shooting with the guys and then let him get a few minutes against Detroit just to keep sharp. I just felt like those four guys especially I wanted to make sure they had some rest.
"I want to get some guys some good minutes, especially Nik [Vucevic], Lavoy [Allen], and Spencer [Hawes], and I want those guys to get sharp. Against Chicago, if that's who we play, or Miami, you're big guys have to make jump shots."