PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia 76ers finished their five-game road trip with a less than satisfying 2-3 record, including a 110-101 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.

Well, if every cloud has a silver lining, than Sunday’s game between the New York Knicks and the Atlanta Hawks was indeed just that for the Sixers.

Even with the day off, the Sixers managed to climb in the Eastern Conference standings courtesy of another loss by New York.

The Knicks, who continue to make strides backwards, fell to the Hawks, 100-95 for their fifth defeat in six games.

You won’t hear Philadelphia complaining.

As a result, the Sixers (36-34) gained sole possession of the sixth spot in the East by a half-game over New York (35-34).

If the playoffs were to start today, the Sixers would take on the third-seeded Miami Heat.

The Sixers, who’ve won 10 of their last 15 games, will get an opportunity to see just how well they match up against Miami when they visit LeBron James and company on Friday night.

The Knicks, meantime, are 7-8 since trading for Carmelo Anthony — and their next two games don’t get any easier.

New York will host the Boston Celtics on Monday night and then the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.

Philadelphia’s push for the fifth spot in the conference begins on Wednesday when the Sixers welcome the Hawks to town.

The Sixers sit directly behind Atlanta (40-30) in the conference standings, four games back of that number five spot in the East.

With their win, the Hawks did gain a half-game on Philadelphia, but an Atlanta loss to the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night would cut the Sixers’ deficit back to three-and-a-half games.

In their last meeting with the Hawks in early February, the Sixers coasted to a 117-83 win in Atlanta.

With only a dozen games remaining in the regular season, a repeat performance could go a long way in determining if the Sixers can turn that silver lining into a gold trophy.

Reported by Dan Majka, CBS Philly

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