Posted on March 27, 2018, by Travis Pulver

The Philadelphia 76ers locked up a playoff spot for the first time, since 2012, Sunday night. But with the No. 3 through No. 8 seeds separated by only a handful of games, every win still means a lot. However, the 20,000-plus fans in attendance at the Wells Fargo Center were not worried about the playoffs or playoff seeding.

They wanted to see the No. 1 pick from the 2017 Draft, Markelle Fultz, play.

Via @SLAMonline

When he stepped on the court the first time, he received a standing ovation. Late in the game, fans started to cheer “We want Fultz!” When asked about it later he said he thought they were cheering for Nick Foles.

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But no. It was all for him.

As could be expected, he did not start, and he did not play much (14 minutes). But he looked good and made a significant contribution considering how little he played (10 points, eight assists, and four rebounds).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he and former Washington Bullet Kevin Porter (1980) are the only players in the shot-clock era to record ten points and eight assists in under 15 minutes.

So, he played, played well but not perfect (one airball and three blocked shots), but most importantly—he survived.

“It was his decision,” 76ers head coach Brett Brown said after the game (ESPN). “It’s been fluid. I get goosebumps telling you all that. I’m so proud of him. The people around him have done great things. I give that kid credit.”

The rest of the team deserves plenty of credit as well for the comeback they had to mount. After the first quarter, Denver held the lead, 27-23. They managed to extend their advantage to eight points by halftime and went into the locker room up 59-51.

It was looking pretty good for the Nuggets until the third quarter started– and then it didn’t anymore.

A 15-5 by the 76ers to start the second half gave Philadelphia a 66-64 lea with 8:49 still to play. The 76ers went on to dominate the quarter and went into the fourth holding on to an 11-point lead, 85-74. Denver was unable to slow the 76ers down in the final quarter as the 76ers coasted to a 123-104 victory.

Joel Embiid and Dario Saric led the 76ers with 20 points apiece; Embiid also added 13 rebounds. J.J. Reddick chipped in 19, and Robert Covington added 18 points.

For the Nuggets, Will Barton led the way with 25 points followed by Jamal Murray with 17 points. Paul Milsap chipped in 16 points.

Denver will try to get back on the right side of the scoreboard against the Raptors in Toronto Tuesday night. The 76ers host the New York Knicks Wednesday night.

Via @GlobalSportsCtr

The Aftermath

With eight games left, the Nuggets can’t afford to lose if they are going to make the playoffs. After Monday night’s loss, they are 1.5 games behind the Minnesota Timberwolves for the No. 8 seed.

Philadelphia, on the other hand, remains in fourth with a half-game advantage on the Indiana Pacers. But they are only one game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the No. 3 seed. However, going forward, fans are going to be interested in one thing and one thing only.

How well Markelle Fultz plays. He is expected to come off the bench for now and only play a limited number of minutes. Hopefully that way, he’ll be ready to contribute in the playoffs.

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