With all of the Disney Princesses admirably rescued from the dangerous ice of the Wells Fargo Center, the Sixers find their way back home to the P-H-I after a long trip out West. With the lowly Pistons on the docket for tonight, the Sixers are sitting in an unfamiliar spot from a year ago; they are 3-2 in their first five games, all of which were played in the Wild Wild West.
After starting last year’s season off 1-9 in their first ten road games (the only win coming in Madison Square Garden where five Sixers players had to score in double-figures to get the win) and finishing 15-26 away from the WFC, there were a lot of skeptics around the Greater Philadelphia Area that said the Sixers seemed doomed to repeat another lousy start in 2011-12.
Well that has not been the case this year boys and girls. It’s actually quite the contrary.
For starters, through five games, the Sixers are scoring 102.6 points per game (good for third in the League) while only giving up 92.8 (tied for eighth best). For comparison purposes, through the first five games of last year, the Sixers were giving up 98.2 points per game.
A year of experience in the Doug Collins defensive game plan has shaved almost six points off their opponent’s scoreboard. That in a year with a shortened preseason which prevented teams from gelling defensively; something that normally takes a good amount of time for even the veteran teams to do.
Some might argue the above stat can be attributed to the lockout and players overall not being ready to go offensively. Some might attribute it to the fact that four of the five teams the Sixers have played are feeding around the bottom ten in the League. Others might also argue that the Sixers aren’t that good, having beaten three, adequate at best, Western Conference teams.
I’m not buying that. I’m not buying any of it.
Had the Sixers not blown a 14-point lead in Utah, something young teams do from time to time, the Sixers would be 4-1 right now.
Raise your hand if you thought that would happen….
Raise your hand if you thought the Sixers were going to be 3-2 before the home opener, where they will be playing 18 out of their next 22 games…
The other reason I’m not buying it is because Collins has this team believing. Not that they are respectable, good or even on the verge of being great. He has them believing that they are being overlooked. For anyone that has played in any type of competitive sport, being the team/individual that is being overlooked is quite the motivational tool for an athlete.
On top of that, in the next twenty games, the Sixers play a very favorable schedule. That stretch starts tonight with what I feel is the worst lineup in the League, the Detroit Pistons (they will play them two times during the next twenty games). The 7-6 will also throw the ball up against the terrible Washington Wizards three times, a beatable Atlanta Hawks team twice, and the less than daunting New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Charlotte Bobcats once. Just looking at the schedule, at worst, the Sixers should be 16-9 after the first 25-games (10-15 last year). If that prediction holds out to be true, that’s a six win differential over 2010-11.
Again, that has all been achieved in the shadow of a shortened pre-season.
With only three dominant teams in the East (that is, until Dwight gets traded from Orlando), the Sixers have/can put themselves in a terrific position for a quick start to the first quarter of the 2011-12 season. That’s something I think they can do. Something I think they will do.
It all starts tonight against the Pistons. To go from the young team seeking experience, to the experienced team looking for respect, the Sixers have to handle their business against the teams they should beat, and steal some games from those they shouldn’t.
Doug Collins will lead them in doing just that.
I believe. Game On!