2012 NBA Power Rankings: Sixers Fall, Again

Mar 31, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; The Philadelphia 76ers dream team dancers perform during the third quarter against the Atlanta Hawks at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers defeated the Hawks 95-90. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

The Sixers are now one game behind Boston Celtics for first place in the Atlantic Division. If the season ended today, the Sixers would – for the second consecutive year – draw the Miami Heat in the first round of the Playoffs. We all know how that goes.

Only 14 games remain, and the Sixers have a significantly easier schedule than the Celtics. Anything short of a Division title and a top four seed in the Eastern Conference would be a massive failure for the Sixers, who started the season 20-9 and owned the Atlantic all season long.

Unfortunately, all the pundits think the Sixers are the seventh or eighth best team in the conference, and who's arguing? Check out this week's PRs after the jump.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com - 16th (8th in East)

The Sixers are just 9-14 since Feb. 15, but Friday's 21-point loss in Washington was really the first in that time that made you shake your head. Now, to avoid a first-round series with the Bulls or Heat, they have to find a way to win on the road. After Saturday, they're home for only two of their final 11 games.

Chris Sheridan, Sheridan Hoops - 14th (7th in East)

Before we count them out of the Atlantic Division race, let's remember that they have two left vs. Toronto and three vs. New Jersey, although they play nine of their last 11 on the road. Plus they have tiebreaker vs Celtics (2-0) no matter what happens next Sunday when teams meet for third and final time. Why the big drop? They lost by 21 to the Wizards, that's why.

John Hollinger, ESPN - 5th (3rd in the East)

Marc Stein, ESPN - 17th (8th in the East)

They say that division titles don't really matter in the NBA, but try telling that to the Sixers. Finishing second in the Atlantic looks like it could be fatal this season, because it could well mean the difference between finishing with the fourth seed and a first-round date with the Heaters as the seventh seed. Guh.

Composite: 13th (7th in East)

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