There is no single NBA team with more at risk over the final six weeks of the regular season than the Philadelphia 76ers.

I know that we in the media have been spilling gallons of digital ink on the daily about what missing the playoffs could mean for LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers -- or, for that matter, about how in the world the Boston Celtics are coming apart at the seams despite being one of the NBA's most talented teams. Sure, the Lakers missing the playoffs would be a cause for much soul-searching in Los Angeles. Luke Walton would be all but gone, even though more of the blame should rightfully be directed toward the front office that slotted players around LeBron who don't fit around LeBron. But what will the Lakers do? They will reload around LeBron, and they'll be just fine. They'll trade for Anthony Davis, or they'll sign a big-name free agent or two, or they'll retool the rest of the roster around LeBron and a young core that should still be considered incredibly promising.

The Celtics? Worst-case scenario, they will enter the playoffs as a five-seed with serious chemistry issues. From Marcus Morris' recent comments ("It hasn't been fun for a long time") to Marcus Smart's recent comments ("We're just not together") to Brad Stevens' recent comments ("We have to be more connected as a team -- it's been a theme for a while"), the chemistry issues have been an undercurrent all season that frequently comes to the surface. But they'll still enter the playoffs as one of the deepest and most talented teams in the NBA, and they're still flush with assets moving forward. Even in the worst-case scenario, the Celtics will be mostly fine.

But look at the 76ers.

Philadelphia isn't going to miss the playoffs, of course, but there are two very real concerns for this team at this juncture of the season. Concern No. 1 is Joel Embiid's knee. Sure, Brett Brown played down Embiid's knee soreness, which he termed as "tendinitis." An MRI revealed no structural damage in the knee. "Nobody needs to read into anything here," Brown told reporters last week, saying it is a typical issue for an NBA player -- and that resting him now will make him more playoff-ready. But it's hard not to read anything into injury news on Embiid, considering he missed his first two NBA seasons due to injury and then had surgery on his left knee during his official "rookie" season, which caused him to miss the final 37 games. The fact that Boban Marjanovic has a bone bruise and mild knee sprain that'll cause him to miss at least a week means the Sixers are even more thin up front.

Concern No. 2 for the Sixers is a little bit more nuanced. Right now, the Sixers sit at 39-22, in fourth place in the East as they go into Thursday night's matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder (8 p.m. ET -- watch on fuboTV with the NBA League Pass extension). Right above them in the standings are the Indiana Pacers. It stands to reason that those two teams will flip in the standings by the time the playoffs roll around; the Pacers have one of the most difficult remaining schedules in the NBA, while the Sixers have one of the easiest. Plus, at some point, the season-ending injury to Victor Oladipo has got to catch up to the Pacers. (Right?!?) But the Pacers haven't been standing to reason all year. Nate McMillan should be a dark-horse candidate for Coach of the Year for turning this injury-riddled team into the NBA's second-stingiest defense. ESPN's Brian Windhorst detailed earlier this week how teams struggling with adversity like the Lakers and Celtics should take a page out of the Pacers' book. This is a team in the truest sense of the word, with McMillan having sold individuals on taking clearly defined roles.

So let's say the Pacers keep flying against reason for the remainder of the regular season and end up with the third-best record in the NBA. That would give us a likely first-round matchup of the Celtics against the Sixers. Bad for both teams, obviously, since you never want what could be a great Eastern Conference finals series to occur in the first round. But much, much worse for the Sixers.

Here's why: Since the beginning of last season, the Sixers have a 2-10 record against the Celtics, including last season's 4-1 playoff drubbing against a Celtics team missing both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Al Horford seems to have Embiid's number; in their last eight meetings, Embiid has made only 25 of 70 shots (36 percent) with Horford guarding him. Even though the Sixers have the better record than the Celtics, advanced metrics call the Celtics the superior team. The Celtics' net rating is fourth in the NBA, while the Sixers are all the way down at ninth. The defensive juggernaut that you'd expect to come from a team with Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons has not yet formed; the Sixers rank a disappointing 12th in defensive efficiency. The deeper Celtics ought to have fresher legs, too; Embiid, Simmons, Butler and Tobias Harris have all averaged more minutes this season than the Celtics' top minute-getter, Kyrie Irving. The Sixers are thin -- only five teams get fewer points from their bench this season than the 76ers -- and these injuries are making them thinner. The meniscus surgery for Furkan Korkmaz, which will keep him out at least until right before the playoffs, might not seem like a big deal, but for the Sixers that's one fewer shooter for a team in need of shooters, and one fewer bench piece to relieve the already overworked starters.

NBA executives I've spoken with about the Tobias Harris trade are of two minds about it. One is, simply, good for the 76ers -- they're going for it, and they now have perhaps the best starting five in the NBA outside of Golden State.

But the other way of thinking is a bit scary for 76ers fans. Philly went through years of painful and ugly losing during The Process. The Process was marked by patience -- by accumulating assets and taking as many shots on young prospects as possible. Since Elton Brand took over as general manager, the Sixers have been marked by The Process speeding up into overdrive. In the 86 days between Nov. 12, 2018 and Feb. 6, 2019, the Sixers traded away a ton of assets -- Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, promising rookie Landry Shamet, Mike Muscala, Wilson Chandler, Miami's unprotected 2021 first-round pick, which is considered an incredibly valuable asset going forward, a 2020 first-round pick and three future second rounders -- and in return got Butler, Harris, Marjanovic, Mike Scott and Justin Patton. On day 87, they officially threw in the towel on 2017 top pick Markelle Fultz and shipped him to Orlando for pennies on the dollar.

Maybe this starting five can propel the Sixers to the NBA Finals. It's certainly possible. And maybe the Sixers will re-sign both Butler and Harris to enormous contracts. Brand has said that he has permission from ownership to go well into the luxury tax, so it sounds like that's a distinct possibility. That's a lot of money being invested in four players, but not many teams can have a legit Big Four.

But if you think the Sixers getting bounced in a second-round matchup against, say, the Toronto Raptors would be cause for soul-searching in Philadelphia, can you imagine the consternation if the Sixers lose in the first round to the Boston Celtics? That's the absolute nightmare scenario. Brand will be roasted on Philadelphia sports radio. The Philly future of Butler and Harris would feel imperiled. The Sixers will have bet the entirety of The Process on one season and come out of it with less than nothing.

So if you're a 76ers fan, you're obviously rooting for Embiid to get perfectly healthy by playoff time. That's No. 1. But just as important will be how the Sixers finish this final month-plus of the regular season. So root against the Pacers, too, because if the Sixers finish behind the Pacers in the standings and head toward a first-round matchup with the Celtics, it's time to panic.