You know there is professional team playing basketball in Philadelphia, right? So what the hell are those Philadelphia 76ers doing these days? They’re playing for the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs right now – WAKE UP, Philly!
I was at the Orlando Magic bashing last night, and the turnout at the Wachovia Center was underwhelming to the say the least. People, this is a legit playoff team playing solid team ball and giving 110% effort right now. They have won 7 games in a row at home and 8 of their last 10. They are sitting in 7th place in the East and only a game and half behind Washington for the 6th spot. I think it’s about time we act like there is a pro basketball franchise in our city who hasn’t packed it in, like the team in Memphis, and show some damn support. I must admit I have been a fair-weather Sixers fan myself lately, but no more. Here is what ESPN thought pre-season about the Sixers:
You can make the case, in Philly’s first full season AAI (After Allen Iverson), that this is the only team in the East with zero hope of reaching the playoffs. Even if Larry Brown ends up taking this job back from Mo Cheeks.
OUCH! But that is exactly why we need to support our overachieving team. The Sixers are playing old school NBA basketball, a la the early ’80s. Meaning, they play almost like there is no three-point line out there. The Sixers are last in 3pt attempts (11.1 per game) and 3pt% (31%). They win by rebounding hard especially on the offensive end, creating turnovers and running the break. When they have to play in the half-court their offense consists of screening to create mid-range shots and opportunistic post-ups when mismatches are recognized (A. Miller destroying hometown standout Jameer Nelson). The team philosophy, young developing players and some wins in the mix makes for a very entertaining basketball team to watch.
Here’s the kicker, with Caron Butler out indefinitely with a hip injury the time is now for the Sixers to snatch up the 6th playoff spot. And that would open the door for some potential craziness come playoff time.
We all agree our guys have no chance against either Detroit or Boston. But the Orlando Magic is another story. Call me crazy or overly optimistic (I’ll take no offense I promise), but I think the Sixers have the ability to shock Orlando in the first round, here’s why:
- Andre Miller vs. Jameer Nelson: Miller is averaging 24.7ppg and 8.7apg vs. Orlando whereas Nelson is only at 7.7ppg and 3.7apg – BIG advantage Sixers
- Willie Green vs. Maurice Evans: Willie shines against the Magic putting up 19.7ppg, 58% fgs and 40% 3pt – BIG advantage Sixers
- Andre Iguodala vs. Rashard Lewis: These guys’ numbers against each other are eerily similar in every statistically category – push
- Thaddeus Young vs. Hedo Turkoglu: Clearly Hedo is the more developed and offensively-used player in this match-up so the numbers are lopsided. The key for the Sixers is can Young force Hedo into taking tough, contested shots? – advantage Magic
- Samuel Dalembert vs. Dwight Howard: Slamming Sammy D is no match for Superman by himself. The key for the Sixers is to double-team the crap out of Howard with Willie Green forcing either Evans or Bogans to consistently make jumpers. – advantage Magic
- Sixers Bench vs. Magic Bench: More specifically, Lou Williams, Reggie Evans, Rodney Carney, Jason Smith, Calvin Booth and Kevin Ollie vs. Keith Bogans, Keyon Dooling, Carlos Arroyo, Adonal Foyle and Brian Cook. Sixers bench plays more minutes and I give them the edge simply because Lou Williams is better than any Magic bench player. Plus these team stats – advantage Sixers
- Youth and inexperience – Both teams are young and lack real playoff experience among their top players. Hedo has to be the leader in the playoffs since he is the most impactful player with postseason experience. But I think the Sixers advantage comes again in Andre Miller at the point bringing a level of experience that Orlando cannot match with their floor general Nelson. Miller will be able to control the game and lead the younger Sixers in the postseason better than Jameer can. I expect both Carlos Arroyo and Kevin Ollie to play more in the playoffs being more experienced guards.
- Dwight Howard is a beast… but may not ready to lead a team in the playoffs. He often shows his youth in games when the defense plays physical against him, double-teaming guards rake at the ball and the refs don’t give him every touch foul. That game description is exactly what the playoffs will be like. Wednesday was a perfect example of that. I witnessed first hand how he gets very frustrated, complains to the refs when he isn’t getting the calls he seems to expect and becomes much less aggressive and less effective on offense. Further, if he doesn’t make free throws in the playoffs fouling him becomes a viable strategy in close games anyway.
Ultimately what it will come down to is can the Sixers play with the same energy and offensive effectiveness on the road as they do at home. For me this is the biggest question mark and the likely determining factor in whether they can turn my potential upset prediction into reality. Sure makes for an exciting and truly unexpected stretch run for that pro basketball team we have in Philadelphia.