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