Can the Sixers Catch the Hawks?

With 13 games remaining the Sixers find themselves just three games behind the Hawks for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, and a less unfavorable first round match-up with the Orlando Magic. The Magic are a superior Eastern Conference team, but they're no Heat or Bulls or Celtics. The best chance the Sixers have of winning their first playoff series in eight years is by playing Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic for the second time in three years. 

But the Hawks aren't the only team the Sixers must outlast to obtain the fifth seed. The seventh-seed Knicks sit a miniscule half game behind the Sixers for the sixth seed, and like the Sixers, have 33 losses.

Can the Sixers hold off the Melo-full Knicks and catch the Hawks simultaneously? After the jump we'll take a look at the remaining schedules of all three teams.

Atlanta Hawks

Games Remaining: 13

Home Games: 7

Road Games: 6

Against above .500: 6

Against below .500: 7

Back-to-backs: 3

Vs. Sixers + Knicks: 1

Tiebreaker over Sixers: Yes

Predicted record: 8-5

Philadelphia 76ers

Games Remaining: 13

Home Games: 8

Road Games: 5

Against above .500: 7

Against below .500: 6

Back-to-backs: 3

Vs. Sixers + Knicks: 2

Predicted record: 8-5

New York Knicks

Games Remaining: 14

Home Games: 8

Road Games: 6

Against above .500: 6

Against below .500: 8

Back-to-backs: 4

Vs. Sixers + Knicks: 1

Tiebreaker over Sixers: No, but depends on April 6th meeting

Predicted record: 9-5

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Looking at the schedules, it will take a Baby Jesus-sized miracle for the Sixers to catch the Hawks. The Hawks own the tiebreaker over the Sixers so instead of a three-game cushion, it'll play out as a four-game lead. With only 13 games remaining, and four games separating the teams, the Sixers would have to go something like 10-3 and hope the Hawks go 6-7. Not likely. Any hope the Sixers have for the fifth seed will hinge on their head-to-head match-up with the Hawks on March 23.

However; the sixth seed is very much up-for-grabs. The Sixers currently own a half-game lead over the Knicks and the tiebreaker. Both teams have pretty similar schedules, with the Knicks playing one extra game. The biggest game of the season will be the head-to-head match-up on April 6. The winner of that game will all-but lock up the tiebreaker and the sixth seed. 

So a first round match-up with the Magic looks unlikely. The sixth seed will probably earn the Sixers a trip to South Beach, and falling to the seventh seed will match the Sixers up with either the Bulls or Celtics, and erase almost all hope for a first-round upset.

It's sixth seed or BUST for me. I want bragging rights over the Knicks, 40 dollars, and the opportunity to take my blogging talents to South Beach for the first round. 

 

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