It's entirely possible they will be in the play-in, of course. But they had no Maxey and a sick Maxey the last two games, the new guys just got here, and it's not just Joel - they need Batum and Melton back too. Even Covington, limited though he might be now. might be part of a bench minutes puzzle.
The play-in itself, while risky, isn't the real problem. Sure, Miami got to the finals last year from it, but hard to see the Sixers knocking off Boston or Milwaukee in the first round unless Joel is completely good to go by then.
It's kind of sad really. Nurse is better than Doc, Joel was having another insane season, Harden isn't really missed and the bench had some bright spots, but the Sixers are definitely not the third-best team in the East and maybe not fourth of fifth either. Actually being sixth still the key but either way a first-round loss will be very much on the table.