Sixers Looking for Strong Finish to...

Sixers Looking for Strong Finish to... Sixers Looking for Strong Finish to the Regular Season

After a week off for the NBA all-star break, the 76ers enter the final stretch of the season full of optimism.

At the beginning of the year, the goal for the Sixers was to earn one of the eight Eastern Conference playoff spots. Now there is a real belief that they can do some damage in the playoffs.

No, the Sixers won’t be favored over the likes of a rejuvenated Cleveland team, along with Toronto or Boston, but they also won’t be overwhelmed if having to face either of the big three.

With a 30-25 record, the Sixers stood seventh in the Eastern Conference at the all-star break. Realistically there were only nine teams vying for the eight playoff spots. Detroit, the current No. 9 team, was three games back of the Sixers, while No. 8 Miami was a game and a half behind the Sixers.

The Sixers 104-102 comeback win over Miami on the game before the all-star break, could be one that turns out to be huge.

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Not only did it give the Sixers momentum, heading into the break, but their overcame a 24-point deficit early in the third quarter.

And what’s more, the Sixers won without Joel Embiid, who missed the game due to right ankle soreness. Embiid returned to appear in three events during all-star weekend, including the varsity all-star game, where he had 19 points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes.

Embiid has shown that there is still room for a dominating center in the NBA. He is averaging 23.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.8 blocks in 31.4 minutes.

He has missed 11 games and his health is the key for the Sixers as they approach the postseason.

There are only 27 games left in the regular season, which coach Brett Brown now refers to as a sprint.

Of those 27 games, only 10 are against teams with winning records.

In addition, the Sixers are finished traveling to the west coast. In fact, they have 13 remaining road games and none against the Western Conference teams.

The Sixers also benefited from the addition of Marco Belinelli, who was bought out by the Atlanta Hawks and signed with the Sixers as a free agent.

Belinelli was pursued by several teams including the Oklahoma City Thunder and the fact he chose the Sixers shows what outsides think of the young talent on the team.

In his first game with the Sixers he scored 17 points off the bench, including 11 in the fourth quarter in the Miami win. No doubt the Sixers wouldn’t have won without him.

He will give the team another adept outside shooter to team up with JJ Redick. While pairing the two together, won’t lead to the best defensive lineup, it will spread the court, giving the Sixers capable long-range shooters.

So if the Sixers can remain healthy, who knows how far they can finish up in the Eastern Conference standings. It would be ideal to get a No. 4 or 5 seed and stay away from Toronto, Boston and Cleveland in the first round.

Either way, this is a team that looks as if they will be a definite postseason contender and one that nobody will enjoy facing in the first round or any other round.

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Author: Marc Narducci


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