Some strange things are happening at the Wells Fargo Center this season; the 76ers are actually winning games and playing a watchable brand of basketball. Doug Collins has brought a new and exciting style of basketball to Philadelphia this season. Their win on Friday night against the Raptors not only snapped their 3 game losing streaks but it guaranteed they would finish the season with a record at or above .500. They lack any elite player or legitimate go to player but they remain the team that other teams don’t want to play in the playoffs. They play a good Magic tomorrow night before they finish the season against a very beatable Detroit Pistons team Wednesday.
Sixers Guard Jodie Meeks 'Show Ya Luv'
For those who have followed the 76ers closely over the last few weeks. You would have noticed that they have a new theme or saying to the season. The saying is “show ya luv!” They hold up what looks like a piece sign with the thumb out as well. It started with a conversation between “veteran” Lou Williams and rookie Evan Turner. Lou was giving Turner some advice after a poor game and said something close to “show ya luv.” It started as a joke but it has quickly caught on with the young team. They even have Coach Collins showing the love. In a recent postgame interview, Collins had his young grandson display the team’s new motto. The team has seemingly united around the motto and has played like a different team than the one we saw last season.
The Sixers faded down the stretch last season and ended up with a 27-55 record. A lot of the blame was handed to former coach Eddie Jordan but many still wondered if they had the talent to compete. They didn’t have a lot of expectations coming into the season due to a lost year last season. But after a slow start they have become one of the most intriguing teams in the NBA. Right now they have the number 7 spot in the Eastern Conference, just a half a game behind the New York Knicks. They are guaranteed to finish no worst than 7th and the 6th spot is a very realistic destination. If the season ended today they would face the “3 Kings” and the Miami Heat. Personally I think that they are overrated but you can’t deny the talent of Wade and James. If Lebron defers to Wade in the closing moments, they would be very difficult to beat in a 7 game series. They both have the ability to single handily take over games and would very tough to shutdown.
The 76ers have played the Heat 3 times so far this season and all three games ended in a victory for the Miami Heat. Despite poor final results, they have played the Heat very tough for two of the games. In November they went into to Miami and only trailed by 2 going into the final Quarter, but the Heat started the 4th on a 12-2 run and never really looked back. The matchup on March 25 was very similar to the November meeting. At one point during the 1st half, the 76ers actually led by 16 points. But the Heat used a 23-2 2nd Quarter sprint to take a one point lead at the half. The 76ers battled back to take a 5 point lead entering the 4th quarter but they again failed to close out the Heat. They were outscored 34-17 by the Heat in the 4th Quarter and Wade alone scored one more point than the entire Sixers team. The Heat’s biggest weakness is there lack of elite play from their big men. They have been vulnerable to teams who can pound the ball inside and dominate the boards. This is something that the Sixers do not thrive in. Brand has had a solid year and the Center Spencer Hawes has showed some flashes of his potential but neither have the game to dominate an opponent.
If the 76ers are able to overcome the Knicks and secure the 6th seed, they would likely face the defending Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics in the 1st round. They are 1-3 against the Celtics this season but they could have very easily won the 1st two games. In early December the Celtics took a one point lead with just 1.4 seconds left on a ally-opp to Kevin Garnett. The two squared off again at the end of December and the game had similar results. The 76ers even led with about 5 minutes left but the veteran Celtic team were able to pull out a 4 point win in the closing moments. Then last month they finally were able to close out the tough Boston team and come away with the victory. They won 89-86 and it was perhaps their best win of the season. After the win, the big screen at the Wells Fargo Center thanked the Celtics fans who were in attendance and said they were welcomed back to see the 76ers beat the Celtics in the playoffs!
"Perfect, perfect basketball for us to get this game tonight against that caliber of a team," said Doug Collins on the team’s big Win
The 76ers seem to match up well against the Celtics and have played them very tough so far this season. It would be interesting to see how an old and aging Celtics team would respond to playing the young and energetic 76ers. The Celtics have seemed to struggle since they traded Kendrick Perkins at the deadline and aren’t the same team that went to the finals last season. A great finish to the season could go a long way in helping the 76ers make a post season run. I think their chances of advancing a round would improve greatly if they are able to face Boston and not Miami in the first round. But no matter what team they play, they would enter the series as the underdog. Boston would be a better matchup but the 76ers would still have to play a near perfect series to win 4 games against them. This season has been a complete 180 compared to last and has been very refreshing for 76ers fans. Regardless of how the season finally ends for this young and exciting team, it will be overwhelmingly marked as a success!