Second Half Predictions For The Philadelphia 76ers

Marc Gasol applauds Andre Iguodala's slam in the All-Star game.

The first half of the 2012 NBA season is officially in the books and at 20-14, the Philadelphia 76ers are in first place by three and a half games in the Atlantic Division. Despite their status atop the division, number-one ranked defense and first All-Star representative since Allen Iverson, fans' enthusiasm has simmered considerably over the past few weeks, and rightfully so, as the Sixers limped into the All-Star break, losing five consecutive games.

Injuries finally caught up to the Sixers, as Spencer Hawes, Elton Brand and Nikola Vucevic have all been banged up. All three are expected to be relatively healthy soon, hopefully as soon as Tuesday's game against the Pistons. As you may have heard, the team is 12-2 when Spencer Hawes starts at center, and 8-12 when anyone not named Hawes starts. That stat may be mis-leading, because of the varied competition faced, but Hawes' return should give the Sixers' offense a significant boost.

Before the season, I predicted a 38-28 finish for the Sixers, which looked too pessimistic a few weeks ago. After losing five straight, it's about what the Sixers are on pace for. In order to reach 38 wins, they'll have to go 18-14 post-All-Star break. Seems doable.

Here's a brief overview of the second half of the season:

  • 7 ESPN games, 3 NBA TV games
  • 8 back-to-backs, 1 back-to-back-to-back (4 in April, along with the b2b2b ... brutal)
  • 18 road games, including 5 straight to end the season
  • 12 games against teams above .500
  • Notable games: 2 against the Magic, 3 against the Celtics, 2 against the Bulls, 2 against the Heat, 3 against the Pacers, 2 against the Knicks, 1 against the Spurs, 1 against the Thunder
The second half is where the contenders separate themselves from the pretenders, as the veteran teams turn up the intensity. The final 32 seem a bit tougher than the first 34, and the Sixers won't sneak up on or surprise teams anymore. A healthy front court and improved play from Jrue Holiday is going to be key.

I'm sticking with my pre-season prediction of 38 wins, which means 18 in the second half. Vote in the poll and drop your predictions in the comments. Does anyone think Evan Turner and Andre Iguodala can replicate their combined PER of 174.8 during All-Star weekend? I do.
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