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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Clinching is Key

The Philadelphia 76ers can clinch a playoff spot with a win against the Houston Rockets and a loss by the Charlotte Bobcats to the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight.

Both the 76ers and Bobcats tip-off approximately at 7 pm against their respective opponents as the playoff race continues to tighten up.

Philadelphia currently owns the sixth spot in the East with eight games left on their schedule. They are two games ahead of the seventh-seeded New York Knickerbockers, five-and-a-half games ahead of the eighth-seeded Indiana Pacers and sic-and-a-half games ahead of the ninth-seeded Bobcats.

The 76ers have a favorable match up against the Rockets when looking at both teams home and road records. 76ers are 23-12 at home and the Rockets are 17-21 on the road this season.

Philadelphia also only allows 97.7 points a game and the Rockets give up 104 points a night. The stats favor the 76ers and they are also coming off a huge road win against the first-seeded Chicago Bulls on Mar. 28.

They need to take that momentum from last night's victory into tonight's game so they can take care of business and hope that the Cavaliers are still fueled enough by their win against LeBron James and the Miami Heat in efforts to get another win against the Bobcats.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

76ers Weak Link : Center Position

Despite Andre Iguodala's inconsistency when closing out games for the 76ers, he is not the hindering reason in their team's success.
Although the 7-foot-1 center, Spencer Hawes, had a tremendous game (16 points and 15 rebounds) against the Sacramento Kings earlier today, he and his fellow 76ers centers have been the weakest part of Philadelphia's lineup. 
Hawes only averages 7.0 points and 5.6 rebounds as the 76ers starting center. When compared to the 76ers former center in Samuel Dalembert (who Philly traded to receive Hawes), Hawes is averaging two less points, approximately one less block and making 22 percent less shots from the free throw line. 
The only other center listed on the 76ers roster is 12-year veteran Tony Battie, who only featured in 36 of Philadelphia's 73 games, and averages a dismal 3 points and 3 rebounds this season.

With that being said, all the production from the center position is possibly unfairly, but nonetheless put on Hawes's shoulders. He's only in the third year of his NBA career, so there is room for improvement, but I still believe the 76ers need to sign or trade for a solid center during the off-season, and hope that Hawes can learn from them and be a force off the bench in the near future.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Post-All Star Break Run Sparks Philadelphia

The Philadelphia 76ers have been on a tear as the NBA regular season approaches its home-run stretch.
Since the all-star break, Philadelphia is 10-5 (37-34 overall), which is a 67 percent winning rate so far after the break. The 76ers post-all star break record is third-best in winning percentage among the East teams who currently hold one of the top eight seeds in the conference. 
The Chicago Bulls (13-3; 81.3 percent) and the Orlando Magic (10-5; 67 percent; has a better overall record) are the only two teams who rank higher than the 76ers in the East after the break
Compared to all the current playoff teams in the NBA, the 76ers rank seventh among them. Philadelphia is also 3-3 against .500 or better teams during this stretch run, and have a tough match up against their potential first-round series foe in the Miami Heat.

Philadelphia is playing exceptional team basketball as of late, and they are one of the most exciting teams to watch since the break. They have played in 5 games decided by five points or less and are 3-2 in those games.

Not to mention, in their last game on Mar 23. against the fifth-seeded Atlanta Hawks, the 76ers won by a score of 105-100. Their league-leading bench also outscored the Hawk's bench by 25 (39-14) in the home win.
The 76ers are one of the hottest teams after the all-star break. Winning games and being on a roll during this part of the season is pivotal if Philadelphia plans to make a deep run in the playoffs this year.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lou Williams Owns The Bench

Philadelphia is the home of the NBA's highest scoring bench so far this season.

The 76ers' bench averages 39 points per game, which is approximately 40 percent of the team's total points averaged. Louis Williams is the team's sixth man, and he has featured in 68-of-the-70 games Philadelphia has played this year.

Williams averages 14 points in 24 minutes a night. His double-figured points is third-best on the team (first off the bench). Lou Will ranks third when compared to the premier bench players in the league who have played at least 60 games off the bench.

The five-year professional point/shooting guard has made 40.4 percent of his field goals, 34.2 percent of his three-pointers and a career-high 83 percent from the charity strike (free throw line) this season.

Since the 2007-08 NBA season, Williams has averaged double figures and has out did his efforts in the points column the previous year.

Every team needs a guy like Lou Will who can give them a consistent spark off the bench because a sixth-man is an important key to a NBA title contending team. Williams will need to continue his successful shooting if the 76ers want to become a top tier team in the NBA.

He will also be needed if they want to  keep complete control over the sixth-seed in the East Standings.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Iguodala Ranks High Among East Forwards

The Philadelphia 76ers have high expectations for star forward/guard, Andre Iguodola, who is in his sixth season with the Sixers.

Many fans do not believe Iguodala deserves to be the star of the 76ers, or has lived up to the high expectations, but the reality is that the 76ers became Iguodala's team as soon as Philadelphia departed ways with former 76ers' star and future Hall of Famer, Allen Iverson.

Despite the doubt and harsh critics, Iguodala has done enough to become the leader and star athlete on this young team.

The former 6-foot-6 Arizona Wildcat is in the top 20 in points, assists and rebounds averaged among the Eastern conference forwards in the NBA this season.

He is 16th in points (14.3ppg), second in assists (6.5apg) and 19th in rebounds (6.0rpg), and has led the 76ers to a 36-33 record so far this season, which is sixth best in the East.

Iguodala has produced near triple-doubles in Philadelphia's last two wins, tallying 13 points, nine assists and seven rebounds on Mar. 18 against the Sacramento Kings and nine points, five assists and seven rebounds against Los Angeles Clippers on Mar. 16.

Iguodala looks to continue his excellent play tonight against the Portland Trailblazers.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Philadelphia is Top Five in Playoff Appearances

The Philadelphia 76ers are en route to their 46th playoff appearance in team history, which is third all-time in the NBA.
They are 35-33 and are currently in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 14 games left until the playoffs.
The 76ers have been apart of the NBA for 62 seasons, and have made the playoffs 46 times, which is 74.2 percent since joining the NBA.
The only two teams that has more playoff appearance success (percentage wise) are the Los Angeles Lakers (92.1 percent) and the San Antonio Spurs (88.6 percent).
The 76ers were originally named the Syracuse Nationals when they first joined the NBA, and did not change their name until the 1963-64 season.
The Nationals made the postseason 14 straight seasons before making the switch to Philadelphia. The 76ers/Nationals have three total NBA championships between them. 

Many coaches have contributed to the 76ers/Nationals playoff/championship success dating back to the 1949-50 season.
The last coach to get them to the NBA finals was Larry Brown, who coached the 2000-01 team that ended up losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games.

William "Billy" Cunningham was the last coach to lead the Philadelphia 76ers (since the name switch) to a championship in 1982-83.

The 1966-67 team, coached by Alexander Hannum, was the first Philadelphia 76ers team (after the name switch) to win a NBA championship.

The first coach to lead the franchise to their first playoff appearance and NBA championship was Alfred Cervi. He led the Nationals to the finals in his first season (1949-50), but it took him until his sixth season (1954-55) to guide them to a NBA championship.

The 76ers has had plenty success in the NBA, but little of that success has ended in championships. It would be nice to see this franchise return to the finals in the near future and bring a fourth championship back to the city of "Brotherly Love."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Road Woes

After beating the Boston Celtics on Mar. 11, Philadelphia lost the first two games of their five-game road trip.
Their most recent loss occurred against the Utah Jazz last night. The 76ers erased a 21-point deficit to take a three-point lead in the closing seconds of the game, but could not hold on for the win. Al Jefferson and C.J. Miles hit clutch shots for the Jazz to tie the game at 103 and force the overtime session. 

The Jazz's momentum carried into overtime and propelled them to a 112-107 victory. Jefferson led the way with 30 points and 17 rebounds, while Andre Iguodala produced 23 points and six assists in a losing effort.

This loss followed a 28-point rout (102-74) by the Milwaukee Bucks on Mar. 12. The 76ers looked sluggish and over matched in the contest. They shot under 40 percent from the field and committed 20 turnovers in the loss. 
Although they failed to take advantage of the opportunity of earning a half-game lead for the sixth-seed, Philadelphia is still five-and-a-half games ahead of the eighth-seeded Indiana Pacers, and are in command of the seventh-seed. 
The 76ers can make up for their losses and finish strong in their next three games, which includes two games against below .500 teams. 
Philadelphia will continue their road-trip in California against the Los Angeles Clippers (26-42) on Mar. 16 and Sacramento Kings (16-49) on Mar. 18, and will finish the trip against the Portland Trailblazers (37-29) on Mar. 19.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Big Win, Against Boston's Big 3

With their latest win against the best team in the East, the Philadelphia 76ers (34-31) continue to prove that they will not be a pushover as a potential seventh-seed in the upcoming playoffs.
The 76ers beat the defending Eastern conference champions, the Boston Celtics,  89-86 last night in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia led Boston throughout the game until midway through the fourth and final quarter when the Celtics took an 81-79 lead. The 76ers then went on a 6-0 run to recapture the lead for the remainder of the game.
It was a team effort by everyone who played for the 76ers that night, especially in the points category; five players were in double figures. Elton Brand and Spencer Hawes led the 76ers with 14 points each.
Although their record against the top tier teams in the NBA is nothing to brag about, Philadelphia has been playing well against those teams as of late. They earned wins against the league-best record in the San Antonio Spurs ( 77-71 Feb. 11) and last night against the Celtics.
In their March losses to the Oklahoma City Thunder (110-105) and the Dallas Mavericks (101-93) they fell to defeat by only 13 points combined. Despite losing to both teams, Philadelphia were there to the end, and even had multiple opportunities to win both games, but could not capitalize.
As the regular season inches to a conclusion, the 76ers are only a half-game behind the New York Knicks (sixth seed)) and three games behind the Atlanta Hawks (fifth seed). Both teams are on losing streaks, so if the 76ers can keep up their intensity throughout the final games, they have a shot at a higher seed.
All in all, teams should keep their Nyquil at home when playing the 76ers because they are a team to be wrecking with, not one to sleep on.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Young and Unconscious

The Philadelphia 76ers will be a scary match up for whoever the second seed in the East is at the end of the regular season, assuming the Sixers don't move up from seventh spot come playoff time.

"That's the first one that has gotten away from us," 76ers head coach Doug Collins said in the press conference after the 110-105 loss to the Thunder on Mar. 9.

Despite losing to Oklahoma City and having their 3-game win streak snapped, Philadelphia is 7-3 in their last 10 games. They have produced 100-plus points in seven of those games (6-1).

The 76ers are averaging 108 points a game since the all-star break, which is nine points above their season average.

Other than the Los Angeles Lakers who are 8-0 since the all-star break, there is no team in the NBA who is hotter than the 76ers after the break. I have this young team pulling an upset against one of the top teams in the East in the first-round of the playoffs. If they can win one game on the road during the upcoming playoffs, anything can happen.

With the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks ahead of the Sixers in the East standings, it is hard to say they will be better than a seventh seed. Regardless of their seeding, the Chicago Bulls or the Miami heat will have a tough match up with the 76ers, and may be the team watching the second round from their couches at home.

76ers Stepping It Up

With 20 games left on their schedule, the Philadelphia 76ers are switching into playoff gear.

Doug Collins has led this team to a 33-30 record so far this season, and has already coached them to six more wins than they had all of last season.

They are currently in seventh place in the East, they are only a half-game behind the New York Knicks for the sixth spot and they are three-and-a-half games behind the Atlanta Hawks, who currently own the fifth spot.
This young team (8 players are 27 or younger) has been playing exceptional basketball lately. They are 8-2 in their last 10 games and 15-5 in their last 20.

The Sixers have averaged 103.7 points a game over the last 20 games and have held their opponents to 96 points in the last 20 games. They have five players averaging double figures in points, and are the league's best in bench production averaging a little over 40 points a game.

The Sixers have three games against above .500 teams in their next five games. Their next game is tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder at 7 pm.

If they can continue their winning ways, Philadelphia could be looking at potentially claiming the fifth seed in the NBA playoffs.