In a shocking turn of events the Philadelphia 76ers are now the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference Playoff picture – only one game ahead of the surging Milwaukee Bucks – with 10 games remaining in the lockout-shortened regular season. After a 20-9 start the Sixers have regressed to their mediocre ways, partly because Doug Collins has reverted to his overbearing ways, and players have predictably tuned him out.
The once great defense has been slumping for a variety of reasons and the Evan Turner starting experiment has taken a turn for the worse, following a promising start. Because it's seemingly the same story every year with the Sixers – overachieving young team, hovering around .500 – fans are in full revolt-mode. The consensus is now that Iguodala should be traded, Collins should be fired and the young core are a bunch of scrubs. Many have even resorted to rooting for the Sixers to miss the Playoffs in epic-collapsing fashion, just so ownership realizes how little talent this roster is realistically infused with.
Much like the mass hysteria and double rainbows that accompanied the scorching start, much of the venom directed toward the Sixers franchise is likely overblown. However; because of the team's mediocre and incompetent past, the frustration and concern is not only warranted, but expected.
Whether you rooting for wins or rooting for losses, the final 10 games of the regular season are going to be riveting, culminating with the showdown between the Bucks and Sixers on April 25 in Milwaukee in the second-to-last regular season game. With the way it's shaping up, the winner of that game will earn the privilege of losing four consecutive games to the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the Playoffs.
Sixers, Bucks, who will it be? Tale of the tape after the jump.
Last 10: 3-7
Since ASB: 9-13
Since Evan Turner: 7-11
Notable Statistics: Last 10 (would-be ranks in parenthesis) - .452 eFG% (29th), 97.9 ORtg (27th), 105.0 DRtg (25th)
Road Games: 8
Games Against +.500 teams: 3
Summary: What's do I need to say that already hasn't been said? The Sixers have been about as bad as any team in the league since the All Star Break. They're offense over the last 10 games, pro-rated for the entire season, would rank 27th and their D would rank 25th. Collins has apparently worn out his welcome and threatening to change the starting lineup, which reeks of desperation to me – probably because it is. Although they play weaker opponents than the Bucks, they have more road games, more b2bs and one back-to-back-to-back. Yikes.
Last 10: 7-3
Since ASB: 15-8
Since Monta Ellis: 9-4
Injuries: Luc Mbah a Moute - day-to-day (sore knee)
Road Games: 4
Games Against +.500 teams: 6
Summary: The Bucks are ballin' since the All Star Break, and even more so since they traded for Monta Ellis. They have a tougher schedule in terms of opponents than the Sixers, but play four extra home games – where they're 15-12 on the season – and less back-to-backs. The scary part is, Ellis hasn't even played well since being traded. If the Bucks beat the Thunder tonight, they will have a leg up.
Check out Brew Hoop for a Bucks perspective.