Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Not a typo: Sixers win 5th straight, eye playoffs

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Forget about positioning themselves for the NBA Draft Lottery, bring on the playoffs! The Sixers, who as recently as about a week ago were the second worst team in the East, have run off five straight wins, including Tuesday night's thrashing of the Timberwolves, to shoot themselves up into 10th place in the Eastern Conference. While they are still 4 games out of a playoff spot, the Sixers suddenly find themselves in the mix for a the postseason in their typically weak conference. While they still might not make it into the playoffs and they would certainly get crushed in the first round if they did, Sixers fans can now rule out all hope that the team will land John Wall in the draft next year.

So, what has suddenly changed to make the Sixers jump from NBA doormat to a decent team? Part of the win streak could be attributed to the weak opponents the Sixers have been playing; the Nets, Bulls, Hornets, Rockets and Timberwolves are all mediocre to bad basketball teams. Scoring has also been up for the Sixers, especially in the last 4 games where they broke 100.

One other factor that could have something to do with the recent winning streak is the absence of Allen Iverson. Iverson misses four games due to illness in his family and the Sixers go on a winning streak? Coincidence? While AI hasn't been terrible in recent weeks, the offense does seem to flow a lot better when he isn't out there.

Does the recent winning streak mean the Sixers are suddenly a good basketball team? No. Does it mean the Sixers shouldn't pursue trading Andre Iguodala to clear up some cap space? No. Unfortunately, we seem headed down a familiar path with these Sixers. The last few seasons they have done just enough to sneak into the playoffs and ruin their chances at a top draft pick. At some point, the Sixers need to make a move to push themselves into the upper echelon in the East or find a way to drop to the bottom so they can retool with a solid draft pick. They won't be able to get out of the rut they are in until they make a change that sends them one way or the other. The current winning streak is nice but it will be much easier for the Sixers to take a dive than it will be to climb out of the mess they are in.

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