Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sixers Eyeing the 6th Seed?

The Sixers just keep on winning. They handily defeated the Clippers last night, 106-80 for their 10th win in their last 13 games. The win moved them into sole possession of the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. They also currently sit two games behind the Wizards for the 6th seed. The Wizards, who recently lost 8 straight games, have turned things around lately, winning 4 of their last 5.

The only way the Sixers do any damage in the playoffs is if they earn the 6th seed. If they end up 7th or 8th, they will have a first round match-up with the Pistons or Celtics, which would guarantee a quick exit. If the Sixers somehow get that 6th spot, a match-up with Dwight Howard and the Magic awaits, which would be no easy task, but at least the Sixers would have a shot at winning a couple games.

So, is there any chance the Sixers can move into that cherished 6th seed? Given their remaining schedule, and the fact that they are as close to dropping out of the playoffs as they are of moving up, it looks unlikely. The Sixers have 21 games left to play, and 7 of those games are against the Celtics, Pistons, Magic and Cavs, the top four teams in the East. They also have games against the Spurs and Suns, two elite Western teams. That is 9 games right there they have little business winning. If they can somehow win 3 of 9 against those top opponents, they might still be in play for the playoffs. Frankly, the Sixers would be lucky to play .500 basketball for the rest of the season, which wold have them finishing with a record of 39-43. 39 wins would get them into the playoffs, probably as the 7th seed.

The 6th seed may be a pipe dream, but at this point of the season, wherever the Sixers end up, the season has to be viewed as a success. They have improved all season long, and the young guys have stepped in and contributed. Andre Iguodala has continued his ascension into superstar status. Andre Miller have flourished in the leadership role. Thaddeus Young has shown flashes of brilliance. They are a team that really has no business competing for the playoffs, and if they were in the Western Conference, they wouldn't be. This stretch run should be looked at as great experience for the young team, and any possible playoff games should be viewed as a bonus.

My prediction is that the Sixers squeak into the playoffs in the 8th seed, and lose the first round series to the Celtics 4-1.

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