In Philadelphia 76ers on February 26, 2012 at 10:30 am

Are the 76ers where you expected them to be as we sit at the All Star break?

 Presently the 76ers lead the Atlantic Division by 3.5 games over the New York Knicks and 4.0 games over the Boston Celtics with a 20-14 record.  With a break here and there they could easily have another 3 wins but breaks don’t count in the standings. The 20 wins are tied for 5th in the Eastern Conference. Miami and Chicago have 27 wins, Orlando 22, Indiana 21and Atlanta 20. In head-to-head competition against these teams the 76ers have competed with everyone except Miami who has beaten them by 21 and 20 points. The 76ers beat Chicago in their only meeting 98-82 at the Wells Fargo Center. They have split with Orlando by winning at home and losing on the road. They played Indiana one time and beat them at home and Atlanta one time and beat them on the road. Overall they have fared pretty well against the best teams in the East. When it comes to the best teams in the West they haven’t fared as well. They did get a big home win against the Los Angeles Lakers but have lost to Oklahoma City, lost to the LA Clippers, lost to the San Antonio Spurs, lost to the Dallas Mavericks and lost to the Houston Rockets. You can toss in losses to Utah and Denver and the 76ers haven’t done well against the West. Whether it’s good or bad the team will have a chance to play each of these teams again before the end of the season.

There are two major concerns moving in to the second half of this shortened season, remember there are only 66 games instead of 82. The 76ers are presently on a 5 game losing streak with 4 of those loses coming on the road and also 7 of their last 9 games. This is a great time for the All Star break for the players to get some rest and get ready to go for the second half. They haven’t played very well lately. The second concern is the 2nd half schedule. The final 5 games of the season are on the road as well as 9 of the last 11. These games are all against lower level teams in the standings except for Orlando and Boston but it’s tough to win on the road every night no matter who you’re playing.

Doug Collins will have his hands full getting the team back on the winning track on Tuesday at Detroit and not looking forward to Wednesday’s home game against Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. As we’ve discussed every week the 76ers need to stick to their team concept of playing great defense, minimizing the turnovers and balanced scoring. To put this is in perspective opponents have scored 100 points or more 6 times and the 76ers are 0-6, add a 99 point game by the Heat and they are 0-7. 100 point games won’t win for this team, it’s not their game to run and shoot with their opponents.

The 76ers balanced scoring is still led by Lou Williams at 15.7ppg, Jrue Holiday 13.6, Thad Young 12.6ppg, Andre Iguodala 12.4, Spencer Hawes 10.5 and Elton Brand 10.1ppg. The team really needs a healthy Hawes down the stretch. Hawes and Brand are still the rebounding leaders with 8.3 and 6.7 per game.

Our opinion moving in to the 2nd half is that the 76ers will win the Atlantic Division. They can’t let the Celtics hang around and gain any ground. I’m not impressed yet with the Knicks but they do have some talent. They haven’t come together to play team ball yet. As far as the rest of the Eastern Division we think the 76ers can advance in the playoffs against any of these teams over a series of games until they get to Miami. With that said, we don’t think anybody in the East can play with the Heat over a series of games. It will be important to reach a playoff position that doesn’t call for an early round match up with them or the season will come to a quick end. Collins has done a great job with this group and the rumors of adding Orlando’s Dwight Howard are very interesting. I’m sure a month ago Howard coming to Philly wasn’t even a thought. Winning will change things. The fans are becoming interested and showing up for games. It should be an interesting run through the 2nd half of the season. Stay tuned.

  1. If the Sixers do add Dwight Howard, do you think that puts them over the hump, as far as being able to contend with the Heat? The Heat still don’t have a true “big man” and Dwight can be good for 30 and 15 any night…

    • It sure helps them. The Heat are so darn athletic and I’ll go out on a limb and say NO ONE can match up with LeBron but if Howard could fit in to the team concept they would be awful good.They’re winning most of their games by keeping the scores in the 92-85 range so a good scorer who doesn’t mess up the chemistry would be a great addition.

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