We skipped the “Rapid Reacts” post for the 76ers awful loss to the New Jersey Nets on Friday because we simply could not stomach typing up another recap that ripped the Sixers. We’re all aware that Collins & Co. are in a deep funk. To be honest, except for a few glimpses of excellence, the Sixers have been in a funk since the All-Star break. There’s no way to sugar coat and there’s no need to analyze it further. It’s a simple fact that this team has not been very good in the last two months.
So this post is not about how bad the Sixers have been of late.
Instead, the purpose of this post is to issue a challenge to all the ballers in the 76ers locker room as well as the coaches.
It’s time to wake up, band together, play some good basketball and finish this season strong. Sneaking into the playoffs as the 8th seed is unacceptable as it does this current team and the future of the franchise no good. Playing solid ball and catching either the Celtics (currently 4 games ahead in the division race) or Orlando or Atlanta (both currently 4 games ahead in the East standing) is a must. When you analyze the mission in front of this Sixers team, you find that it’s a difficult one to complete, but not necessarily impossible.
But it’s now or never for this group of Sixers and should they fail to accomplish the task ahead of them, this roster will be blown up in 3, 2, 1…
When you look at the final 7 games of the 76ers 2011-12 NBA schedule you immediately see that the Sixers play 6 of their final 7 games on the road. Obviously finishing strong with such a brutal road stretch will be a daunting task. That’s especially true for a team that is 4-6 in their last 10 games and 12-15 away from the WFC this season. But a closer look at the break down of those games tells us that if the Sixers can return to form, they can make a move in the standings:
- They open the stretch run tonight in ORL vs. a Magic team that played in CLE on Sunday and will be without D12, Hedo and possibly “Big Baby” Davis tonight. That should be a W for Philadunkia’s home team.
- Then on Tuesday we come home for the second half in a back-to-back set — a run with the Indiana Pacers (38-22). The Pacers are arguably the most improved team in the NBA. The Sixers lost by 17 to Indiana at Indy back on March 14th and the Pacers are also 8-2 in their last 10 games. But for some reason (call it blind faith), we believe the Sixers reach down deep in front of the home crowd and pull this one out.
- Next is a road game vs. the Cleveland Cavs who are improving overall, but are not good enough to beat the Sixers even though it will be Collins & Co.’s third game in three days. So that goes down as a win.
- A loss to Indiana happens on Saturday, April 21st.
- A game vs. NJN in NJ follows the L in Indy. Despite their recent success vs. the Sixers, the Nets should have mailed it in for 2011-12 by the tip off of this game, so we’ll give the Sixers a W here.
- A game at Milwaukee on Wednesday the 25th should be a victory and that will be followed by a win in the final game of the season at Detroit.
By our math that would make the Sixers 6-1 over their last 7 games. When you look at the much tougher schedules that remain for Boston, Orlando and Atlanta, that should be good enough to catch one of them in the standings.
In our opinion, Orlando is the most likely candidate to be run down in the standings by the Sixers. The Magic are really beat up right now, there’s still some lingering locker room drama and they have tough games vs. Sixers; @ BOS; @ Utah; @ DEN and @ MEM remaining. Again, if the Sixers can get their own ship righted, they have a very good chance of catching the Magic in the East Conference standings.
At first glance, Atlanta appears to have favorable schedule as they only have one road game left and for a team that is 19-9 at home this season, that is very good news. Still, they’re 5-5 in their last 10 and they close with four games vs. opponents that own an average record of 8.5 games above .500. So given that stiff competition, there is a very good possibility that the Hawks could slip up in the last 10 days of the 2011-12 season and allow the Sixers to sneak past them in the East. Here’s a look at the Hawks remaining schedule @ TOR; vs. DET; vs. BOS; vs. NYK; vs. LAC; vs. DAL. We see this as the second most likely scenario for the Sixers.
Boston’s remaining slate features @ NYK; vs. ORL; @ ATL; vs. MIA and vs. MIL in the season ender. Tougher then the Sixers remaining schedule, but not brutal, and certainly not as tough as Orlando’s or Atlanta’s slate of games. Despite how well the C’s have played in the last month we still have a sliver of hope that age and injury may strike them down and that the Sixers can somehow make a last second run to win the Atlantic. This in our opinion is the least likely of all the scenarios.
The Sixers’ mission is clear. Get yourselves together and move up in the playoff standings or this season will be viewed as a waste of time and the result will be an off season full of changes.
The question is, ‘Will they choose to accept it?’