Back in the postseason for the first time in two years, the Philadelphia 76ers still don’t know who they’ll be meeting in the opening round.
They’ll find out soon after completing their regular-season finale against the NBA-worst Atlanta Hawks.
After blowing a chance to lock up a spot in Sunday’s 104-83 setback in New Jersey, the Sixers came out with a purpose Monday, racing to a 22-point lead before cruising past Milwaukee 122-106.
Allen Iverson, the league’s leading scorer and an MVP candidate, had 39 points and 12 assists to lead the way as Philadelphia rebounded quickly from last season’s non-playoff campaign.
“I feel like myself and my teammates, we are a playoff team,” Iverson said. “We believed that all year. We believed in each other. We stuck with each other in good times and bad times and we never pointed fingers at each other.”
The Sixers earned their berth by winning when it counted. They have lost just twice in their last nine games, and won 10 of 15 down the stretch.
Philadelphia can finish, sixth, seventh or eighth in the Eastern Conference depending on how Indiana, Cleveland and streaking New Jersey fare in their final games. If Chicago beats the Pacers on Wednesday and the Sixers beat Atlanta, Philadelphia would earn the No. 6 seed.
“It doesn’t matter, regardless of who we start out with,” Iverson said.
The Hawks aren’t likely to get in Philadelphia’s way.
Atlanta matched its season low for points in Tuesday’s 95-68 loss to defending NBA champion Detroit, failing to win consecutive games for the first time during its brutal season.
Josh Smith scored 18 points for the Hawks, who were coming off 139-135 overtime win in New York on Monday.