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GM 3: MUST WIN…YOU HEARD US

Posted by: Michael Kaskey-Blomain
05/16/12 2:26 pm EST

The Sixers want this series — bad. 

After the disappointment that was Game 1, where the Sixers outperformed the much more experienced Celtic squad for the bulk of the game in Boston, but ultimately still came up short, many expected the young team to come out shattered and shaken in Game 2, and all but give the series to the guys in green.  Instead they did the exact opposite.  They overcame a very slow start, battled Boston to the wire in a hotly contested game and answered Coach Collins’ plea for poise while knotting the series up at one and bringing home court advantage back to the City of Brotherly Love.

Game 3 will serve as a swing game, as whoever comes out on top will certainly snatch the momentum in this series.  The first two games demonstrated that the Sixers can not only hang with Boston and its barrage of big names, but that they can beat them as well. 

In order for the Sixers to be successful in Game 3, there are a couple keys they must focus on. 


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TIME FOR THE TRUTH

Posted by: Philadunkia
05/12/12 1:52 pm EST

With the Chicago Bulls now in the 76ers rear view mirror, it’s time to focus on the Eastern Conference semi-final series vs. our arch-rival Boston Celtics.  As we all know, the Sixers went an encouraging 2-1 vs. the “Big 3″ & Co. in 2011-12.  Included in those two W’s was a 45-point whooping by the Sixers.

However, if you read this site, you are hoops savy enough to realize that Boston has been playing significantly better baksteball since we last saw them back in April — a 103-79 win by the C’s.  So you can pretty much throw the regular season results out the window as we prepare for Game 1 tonight.

With the regular season contests nearly useless as a barometer for this series, we thought it would be a solid idea for a couple of the scribes here at Philadunkia to highlight some of the keys to this second round playoff mathc-up as well as provide you the the readers with some predictions for who will move on to the Conference Finals.

Our predictions after the jump.

 
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GAME 6

Posted by: Philadunkia
05/10/12 2:02 pm EST

We do not believe it’s an exaggeration or too much hype to state that tonight’s Game 6 match-up with the wounded Chicago Bulls is the most important contest this group of 76ers has ever faced.

A loss tonight by the 7-6, a team that when you combine the regular season and playoffs is 17-19 on the road and 1-3 in Chicago, would lead to certain elimination in Game 7 back at the “Madhouse on Madison”. 

So, seeing how this is a cliche “must-win” for the Sixers and especially the likes of Brand, Dre, Hawes, Meeks and Louis — current 76ers whose future with the franchise is uncertain — we thought it would be a solid post idea to have each of the Philadunkia scribes briefly point out a few keys for our 7-6 tonight and then lay out a prediction for this all or nothing Game 6.

After the jump, our Game 6 predictions…

 
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LINK DUMP: GAME 5 PREVIEW EDITION

Posted by: Tom Sunnergren
05/08/12 3:51 pm EST

A win tonight and the Sixers advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2003, where they’ll square off against one of a pair of teams they went 5-1 against in the regular season.

So that’s the good news. The bad is this: to get there, they still have to take a game from a prideful Bulls team that is, while profoundly depleted, formidable.

And to do that they’ll probably need the benefit of the continuation of some recent trends that don’t look entirely sustainable.

(Free throw shooting, Spencer Hawes eating people’s faces, terrible injuries to integral members of the Bulls; these things come to mind.)

But get excited Philadelphia. We certainly are.

Five and a half hours out from tip-off, here are some links to whet your appetites.


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GAME 3 PREVIEW: STAY GROUNDED, SIXERS

Posted by: Tom Sunnergren
05/04/12 2:28 pm EST

My uncle spent an afternoon in the emergency room around a decade ago after his dog bit through his hand. “Denny” was a mild animal of what vets admitted was uncertain ancestry, loved and lovable, but he’d been hit by a car and so spent the last hours of his life in a terrified frenzy. He didn’t know where he was, or what he was doing. My uncle had seen him get hit—he was chasing a bird, I think, and ran right into the path of some kind of sedan—rushed to his side to comfort him, and the dog bit deep into his palm. Denny was, in those last moments, gripped by fear, capable of anything. That was how he died.

The lesson: be very weary of wounded animals, even, maybe especially, the ones you think you know.

Its corollary: be very weary of the Chicago Bulls.


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PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS: BRING ON THE BULLS?

Posted by: Philadunkia
04/28/12 7:00 am EST

“Jesus, everything ends badly. Otherwise it wouldn’t end.”

-Cocktail

Only four times in NBA history has an 8-seed lived to see the second round of the playoffs—the most recent survivor being, of course, the 2011 Grizzlies—and if the Sixers want to make it five, they have their work cut out for them.

Starting this afternoon at 1 p.m., the 7-6 begin a seven-game set with a Chicago squad that’s now twice consecutively finished the regular season with the best record in the East, boasts the Association’s top defense and its reigning MVP, and has enough depth across the rest of the lineup that it withstood…no, thrived during Rose’s extended absences this season.

But while the Sixers more than held their own against the Bulls in 2012, outscoring them by two points in three head-to-head matchups, Philadunkia’s own fearless forecasters see an uphill climb for the home team.

And according to our fab five, it’s a really steep hill:


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FO’ with the FOES: NY KNICKS

Posted by: C. Smith
03/21/12 2:50 pm EST

This ‘the Eagles finally have a real middle linebacker’ edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” — Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews key upcoming 76ers games — features tonight’s opponent, the surging New York Knickerbockers.

To be honest, we once again debated whether or not to write this preview.  Yes we know the Knicks have won 4 straight under Mike Woodson – vs. POR; vs. IND; @ IND and vs. TOR.  And yes we know that NYK’s superstars ‘Melo and Amare have recently been playing with more urgency after they got D’Antoni fired.  And yes we know New York’s defense has improved.  And yes we know that New York beat Indiana twice in a back-to-back set of games — the same Indiana team that recently manhandled the 76ers.  Finally, we also realize that Linsanity has returned to form in his last three games and is averaging 16.6 points, 7 dimes and 5 boards per night over that stretch. 

To be honest, we don’t care.  The Sixers should win this one easily because they are the better team and thus tonight is not a “big” game in our eyes.  This is the same group of Knicks that rode Linsanity to unbelievable heights only to crash and burn.  It’s also the same hapless group of Knicks the Sixers pounded into the ground at the WFC last Sunday and I expect similar outcome tonight.  Why??  I’ll tell you why.  The NYK don’t have the heart or character to do what it takes to win on a consistent basis in this League – play solid defense every night. 

So, tonight the Sixers should use this formula to bring home another W.  Let the Knicks play iso ball all night and allow ‘Melo to shoot 15+ times in order to score 17 points.  ‘Melo’s frequenting hoisting will render Amare a non-factor.  Then have Holiday and Turner handle Lin.  Use the “Night Shift” to build a cushion in the second quarter and come out of the locker room after the half and deliver the knockout blow with suffocating defense, thus sending the Knicks on another downward cycle in their rollercoaster season.  Ohh yeah, and be sure to score 100 points so everyone gets free Big Macs.

For a little more insight into the Knicks team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Mike Kurylo from KnickerBlogger.net to answer four questions on the improved Knicks from us here at Philadunkia.


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FO’ with the FOES: MIAMI HEAT

Posted by: C. Smith
03/16/12 3:50 pm EST

This Friday edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” — Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews key upcoming 76ers games — features tonight’s opponent, the Miami Heat (31-11), who currently sit in second place in the Eastern Conference..   

We actually debated not writing a preview of tonight’s game down at the Wells Fargo Center vs. the Heat.  The reason for our hesitation – we questioned whether or not this run against Miami is a “big” or “key” game on the schedule.  Yes the Sixers are ballin against the Heat — arguably one of the, if not the best team in the NBA — tonight.  So obviously this is a highly anticipated contest in Philadunkia nation and there will be a packed house tonight down on Broad Street. 

But from a basketball perspective, we still wonder if this is a “key” game for the 7-6.  That debate stems from the fact that the Heat are clearly a better team then the Sixers and have the 76ers “number” as they say.  Anyone who watched these two squads battle during last year’s playoffs and on two occasions earlier this season, should have come to this realization by now.  And please don’t give us the, “But now Evan Turner is starting.” line either.  While Turner has given Philadunkia’s home team a huge boost, ET’s recent stellar play wasn’t enough to down the hot shooting Pacers Wednesday night and it certainly won’t be the answer for the Sixers in their efforts to finally overcome the Heat tonight.    

Now take the above items we already know about the mighty Heat and throw in the fact that tonight Wade, Lebron & Co. come into the WFC angry after their unexpected loss in Chicago on Wednesday night to the D-Rose-less Bulls and the Sixers chances of winning this game get even smaller.  (FYI…back on February 3rd, the Heat came into Philly off a loss @ MIL and simply dismantled the Sixers, 99-79.  Thanks for that CHI & MIL.)

So our advice is to just sit back and enjoy this game tonight between two defensive minded and athletically gifted teams that like to get out on the break and play above the rim.  If the Sixers somehow manage to hijack a W tonight then rejoice in the huge upset.  Should they lose yet another one to the Heat, then simply shrug off the L, pop open a cold one and turn your attention to the NCAA Tourney, because tonight is not a make or break / “key” / measuring stick game for the 76ers and thus yet another L to the Heat should not cause you any stress.

For a little more insight into the Heat team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Tom Haberstroh at ESPN.com’s Heat Index to answer four questions on Miami from us here at Philadunkia.


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RESET BUTTON

Posted by: Jeff McMenamin
03/04/12 1:56 pm EST

Tonight the Sixers face the Chicago Bulls at home(again). If you recall, the biggest win of the Sixers season so far came against the Bulls a little over a month ago at home to a final score of 98-82 on February 1st. B ack when the win occurred, the Sixers were the talk of the NBA.  ESPN.com’s own John Hollinger had the Sixers atop his power rankings and ESPN.com’s Marc Stein held the Sixers slightly below that ranking, coming in at number three. Analysts were debating whether or not this team was actually a championship contender.  This was of course before everything that transpired for the Sixers during the rest of the month of February.

After February 1st, the Sixers held the second best record in the league at 16-6.  Today the Sixers stand at 22-15.  During February the Sixers went 6-9.  The Sixers have only had three constants which have happened during this time.  The Sixers continue to lead the League in defense, now allowing just 87 ppg.  They also still stand atop the Atlantic division, with the suddenly hot Celtics nipping at their heels just three games back, and the Linsanity Knicks only three and half back.  The team has also had to play without starting center Spencer Hawes for a good portion of this time, as he logged just two games for the month of February. 


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FO’ with the FOES: OKC THUNDER

Posted by: C. Smith
02/29/12 3:07 pm EST

This edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” — Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews key upcoming 76ers games — features tonight’s opponent, Kevin Durant and the red hot Oklahoma City Thunder, who may be the best team in the NBA not from Miami. 

We believe this is going to be a highly entertaining contest featuring two very young, athletic teams.  It’s also a huge game for the Sixers as it basically is exam time (again) for 7-6 tonight.  The Sixers went 5-2 during their “death row” stretch in February and one would have thought that would put the League and the “experts” on notice that this squad was for real.  However there were those who still refuse to recognize the Sixers as a quality team and the recent 5 game losing streak only served to give those doubters more ammunition.  A victory tonight by the Sixers could make a strong statement to the rest of the League and the haters that the Sixers are for real (again).

But a W will not come easily tonight.  If fact we’re not liking the Sixers chances vs. the Thunder.  Forget for a second that OKC currently owns a 5 game winning streak and that the Sixers are 1-5 in their last six.  Also try to ignore the stat that tells us the Thunder have won 5 in a row in this series.  What has us worried for tonight’s contest is Russell Westbrook and the match-up nightmare he will present for the 7-6.  The Sixers struggles vs. the League’s elite point men (D-Wil and Parker to name two.) in 2011-12 have been well documented on this site.  Westbrook is yet another of the best lead guards in the Association.  Given his history vs. the Sixers (29 ppg. last year) and the Sixers issues with top PGs, Russ should have a monster game tonight.  That would likely doom any hopes of a Sixers victory.  Then throw in All-World wingman KD as well as Serge Ibaka, James Harden and Thabo and the Thunder present a lot of offensive fire power for the Sixers to overcome — at both ends of the floor — in order to grab a W.

The hope for a Sixers win tonight lies in two things.  The first is the fact that OKC turns the ball over a ton (League’s highest turnover rates at 16.9 per.).  Obviously under Collins, the Sixers value the rock and live off their tough defense that takes it away from opponents.  If the Sixers can get a slew of TOs, get out on the break, score a lot of easy baskets and avoid half-court situations, it could help lead to an upset tonight.  But easy baskets won’t be enough.  The second item the Sixers will need tonight is superior bench play.  Outside of Harden, the Thunder bench is decent, but does not measure up to the “Night Shift”.  If the 76ers starters can play even or better against the first-five from OKC and then Thad, Louis, Nik & Co. have an outstanding game vs. the Thunder’s second unit our chances of a win certainly improve.  Lots of easy buckets + dominating bench play = Sixers W.  

One other interesting note: 6 of the Thunder’s 7 losses this season have come on the road. 

For a little more insight into the Thunder team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Royce Young from dailythunder.com to answer four questions on the Thunder from an insider’s perspective for us here at Philadunkia.


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