Sixers Craziness: The Door is Open for the 6th Seed

Wachovia Center

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:

  • Match-ups
    • 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.

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29 Responses

  1. The ’83 championship team remains one of my all-time NBA favourites.

    Great post, on your part..

    http://khandorssportsblog.wordpress.com

  2. great post !!

    I hope people will start to care, really. I do care, too bad I am an ocean away, LOL

    Can’t wait for the GSW game

  3. Khandor – ’83 team was such a dominant team. Can only dream of another run like that. Less than likely with the way free agency is now.

  4. Ricky – I was reading some of the comments over at Deep Sixer talking about the attendance issues and the consensus seems to be fans won’t come out and support a team playing .400 ball even if they are competing for the 6 playoff spot in the East. The team has to be winning 50 games in order for fans to fork out money for tix, parking and concessions. Basically Philly fans are frontrunners, no other way to cut it.

    What is worse – the Wachovia Center is only running at 64% capacity good for last in the NBA behind teams like Memphis, New York, Miami (10 wins this team has ppl), Seattle (they are likely moving the team). I just think that is a bit ridiculous.

  5. Dannie,

    re: Khandor – ‘83 team was such a dominant team. Can only dream of another run like that. Less than likely with the way free agency is now.

    If the Patriots & the Spurs have proven anything substantial in recent years it’s that assembling a terrific ‘pro sport team’ is still a viable possiblity … in the era of Free Agency … as long as your organization is well-managed by individuals who know how to evaluate & coach athletically talented players with sound character and a strong commitment to the principles of “Teamwork”.

  6. Khandor – I agree it is possible to build a dominant team, but it is tougher now. And NBA parity might be at an all-time high right now.

    The Spurs had the luxury of drafting the prototypical franchise player in Tim Duncan, that is the major piece lacking in Philadelphia right now. Even when we had AI although he is an unbelievable talent he is a bit of a freak (like Charles Barkely) in terms of his ability relative to his size and proved very difficult to build around. Without that centerpiece big man it basically takes a Michael Jordan-type to have a dominant team in the NBA and I am not banking on that happening anytime soon. Those Sixers didn’t get over the championship hump until Moses came to town, and they had a high caliber player in Doc already! That speaks volumes to me.

  7. One of the best things about this current group of 76ers is just how well they Rebound the ball … speaking of the contributions made to the ’83 by one Moses Malone!

    Yes, they are still searching for their Main-Frame wing player to consistently carry the scoring load for their team (as Iggy just can’t do it), but … I absolutely love the way (Lil) Mo (Cheeks) has them defending, rebounding, running the lanes (in offense transition) and sharing the ball (in the half-court) as a ‘team’.

    Can they obtain a spot in the Eastern Conference Playoffs this season?

    I sure hope so … they’re an easy group to cheer for.

    🙂

    http://khandorssportsblog.wordpress.com

  8. Dannie, I’m 100% with you on your “let’s pray we get the Magic!” seed. I don’t think we would beat them, but we would certainly have a better shot against their finesse, anti-physical forward combo of Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu then we would against Boston, Detroit, and I’d add Cleveland as well.

    Also some shorter term “history” there…as in the lockout shortened ’98 season, when we made it back to the playoffs for the first time in six years, we were the 6th seed playing the Orlando Magic, and of course took it to Penny, Nick Anderson and co. for our first of four 2nd round playoff appearances during AI’s era.

    (I went to the game where we clinched it at home against the Magic…one of the sports highlights of my life…the roof of the building was ready to explode from the sheer energy of the fans).

    Another thing I love…and I know a lot might disagree…I love the decision not to tank. Yeah, it would be nice having a top 5 pick…but my god. !@#$ draft picks. I’d rather a team play it’s ass off any day and overachieve and leave their hearts on the floor rather then tank and purposefully lose just to maybe gain a better pick. I hate the whole mentality of “losing to get young players”…it’s a total joke to me. This crew needs to be supported.

  9. This team constantly gets screwed, our has in the past – a la Billy King – screwed itself in the draft. Playoffs are 110% the best way for this team to grow and mature. I cannot wait for the playoffs and am hoping to attend both 76ers and Flyers playoff games this year. Maybe a playoff run for the Sixers will bring the crowd back.

    I am increcibly lucky to be sitting in a luxury box of late for the games (flyers and sixers), thanks to my beautiful gf and her awesome father, but you can buy the cheapest ticket in the house for a Sixer game, and be courtside by the end of the half (not literally, but pretty damn close). It is EMPTY and very quiet at times.

  10. And you are very right, only chance we have of getting out of the first round is the Magic.

  11. Dave – I can’t even count how many fans want the team to tank and have read comments on blogs about it. There are no guarentees that you get the top pick or that a player will live up to their potential (Ahem, Derrick Coleman). So developing a winning attitude is much more important for the young guys right now.

    Sucks the big win against PHX was followed up by Washington unexplicably beating the Hornets otherwise we could have picked up a full game this weekend.

  12. Brian – I was in the box as well when they beat Orlando last week and currently have good seats for both the Boston game on 3/10 and the San Anontio game on 3/15. Then back in the box for the Phoenix game March 28th. I am feverishly working on getting tix for AI’s return to Philly as well.

  13. Dannie, nice to hear at least one other person out there agrees with me with the “tanking goes against every sports moral that exists” philosophy! Bout time haha. I don’t care if we tanked and the #1 pick could be the next LeBron James. Not worth it.

    Fans that want to tank are the same ones that want to play in a finals game where the other team’s best player gets injured, thus making it easier for us to win. Stuff like that is cheap, silly, and not what sports are about.

    Both you and Brian are making me jealous with the Sixers tix talk…I live in DC now, barely have access to Sixers games on tv, and am surrounded by crappy DC sports fans. Maybe between you cheering on the Sixers, and me going to Wiz games to boo the hell out of the Washington Faeries lol, our combined effort will get us that 6 seed.

  14. Though getting the #6 would be undoubtedly awesome, I can’t say I’d mind watching them square up against the Pistons or Celtics either. Expectations would be so unbelievably low that merely avoiding a sweep would seem like a roaring success.

  15. Also worth mentioning–has there been a SINGLE nationally televised Sixers game this year? I mean, I know they weren’t supposed to be great, but Philly is still a major market (and Sixers a storied franchise that was a legit contender not THAT long ago), and I’ve seen ESPN and TNT games with Portland, Minnesota, Seattle, and other bottom-shelf teams. Not to mention about 50 fucking Miami games. Pretty lame for us following the team from out of town.

  16. Dave, that sounds like a perfect plan for the 6th seed. This team would feed off of increased support from the fans at home, that’s why I am going to do my part for throughout March. Make sure you boo and cheer especially loud April 12 when we play at Washington.

  17. I have seats already for the Nuggz, not great ones though. Box for Lebron, I have never seen him in person, so I’m pretty pumped for that game.

  18. Intensities – any playoffs is good playoffs. But you figure if they get to 6 and some how knock off the Magic, they will play Detriot in the second round anyway. So we get the best of both worlds. And a great great storyline with a big 6 vs 3 upset.

    TV is all politics and although Philly is a major market, we have no major attractions in terms of a superstar player or a team that was thought to be very good before the season. Miami had both a perceived good team and superstars. They just fizzled and should be banned from television for the remainder of the season. Portland is on TV because they drafted Sam Bowie…I mean Greg Oden (joking Portland fans I really like that team and can’t wait for Oden to get back and show us what he is made of). Seattle = Durant, and I am willing to bet the schedule was set before KG got traded. That really hits the out of town fans hard. You see the quote I pulled from ESPN above they had no hopes for this team at all going in.

  19. Brian – AI and Melo are a really big draw, much bigger than Boston, PHX or SA right now.

  20. The one thing we are probably all over looking as the “Dwight Howard eats the Sixers frontcourt alive” factor. I mean…think of it from his point view. You’re Dwight Howard, and you see for a 7 game series where you’re matched up against:

    An inconsistent, rail thin seven footer that plays decent individual D at best…a 6’7 rebounder whose best weapon against a 7’0 enormous man-beast is grabbing his nutsack…a 19 year old tweener rookie…and a fossil of a backup center from Penn St.

    Dwight has got to be drueling over just the thought of him playing our frontcourt. Our combined big men really do blow…we are the single most unintimidating team with our big men in the L. Probably Washington and G-State are 2nd and 3rd.

  21. Dave – Agreed. That is why the strategy should be to first get the damn ball out of his hands an force someone else to beat you. Second use our combined fouls whenever he has a free dunk or lay-up attempt and see if he can make better than 1 out of 2 for a series (meaning if it is close down the stretch go with the hack-superman strategy until he proves he can beat you at the line.

    Back to my first point though, the key will be in who wins the forward match-ups defensively more so than Howard. You could take another strategy of let Howard get his (making it as hard as possible that is) but focus on locking up Hedo and Lewis. Turkoglu has been the player on Orlando givng the Sixers the most problems anyway.

    Either way there just isn’t a better (likely) match-up for the Sixers in the East.

  22. You dont see the “Hack a Shaq” mentality much anymore, as it was coined in Shaq’s prime. With the atorcious foul shooting that seems to be taking the league by storm, you would think one smart coach would employ this method to get a W.

  23. I am tired of hearing about the East! The East is terrible. The big “3” in Boston, the well oiled machine in Detriot and Lebron & Howard are all the East have. Every other team does not matter! It is hard to look at the bottom of the East playoff picture and see 3 teams below .500 and another barely over. The East should only have a 4 team playoff. The other teams do not deserve it. The playoffs are in the WEST!!!!!!

  24. Hops – No one could disagree that the East is extremely top heavy while the West is the definition of parity. But that shouldn’t and damn sure won’t stop a Philly fan (me) from writing and discussing Sixers basketball, on my Philly-focused Sports blog, with other Philly sports fans. I think you get the point.

    But I am writing a Western Conference post right now if that makes you feel better.

  25. […] Dannie wrote a fantastic post today on “Sixers Craziness: The Door is Open for the 6th Seed”Here’s ONLY a quick extractI 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. … […]

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  27. […] that’s not worth supporting this team I don’t know what is.  On February 21st I said the Sixers needed to do three main things to […]

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