Get your Sixers rally towels out, folks. (Uh, the Sixers have those, right?)
The Sixers aren't officially eliminated from the playoffs... yet. Coming into Friday night, the Milwaukee Bucks magic number was 2. That meant that a Bucks win (over the Knicks) and a Sixers loss (to the Hawks) would have allowed the Bucks to clinch the ever-so-desirable eighth seed. Not only does the 8th seed get the honor of
playing being demolished by the defending NBA Champions Miami Heat in the first round, but they also get to miss out on the NBA Draft Lottery. What teams find good players in the NBA draft, anyway?
Sarcasm aside, the Sixers are still alive because they won and the Bucks lost Friday night. The Bucks magic number stays at 2. A Sixers loss OR a Bucks win will drop that number by 1 until it reaches 0 and allows the Bucks to clinch the 8th seed. Hopefully the Sixers don't make the playoffs. That way they get to keep their lottery pick this year, and there's no question they're a team that needs to add more talent.
It remains highly unlikely that the Sixers find a way to clinch that last playoff spot, but with the way they've played recently (obviously in an attempt to spite pro-tankers)... well, it's not totally out of the question.
Speaking of their improved play, the Sixers are now 7-3 in their last 10 including their most recent victory over the Hawks. A hot start, highlighted by a 73% shooting percentage and a season high 40 points scored in the first quarter, allowed the Sixers to play with the lead for the entire game. The Hawks keep their deficit within reason throughout, but were never able to muster a run that could threaten the Sixers lead.
The Sixers were led by a strong performance from Evan Turner. He had 24 points on a 15 shots, including three 3 pointers. He also worked the glass and pulled down 11 rebounds. Damien Wilkins dropped a very efficient 16 points on 8 shots. Spencer Hawes chipped in with a less efficient 19 on 17 shots. Jrue Holiday continued to struggle after shooting 2 for 24 against the Bobcats. He finished with 9 points on 14 shots (and 8 assists).
What do I make of these performances? Honestly, not all that much. The Sixers are playing garbage time, low pressure basketball right now. Wins or losses really don't matter. While they're technically still alive as far as the playoffs go, it's just not realistic.
Reading into these performances too much is both annoying and misleading. For example, I'm sick and tired of hearing how well Spencer Hawes has been playing lately. I even tweeted about it:
All this recent Hawes praise makes me want to punch a wall. He's putting up empty stats in garbage time of an NBA season. He's not good.— Brandon Lee (@BrandonLeeSBN) April 6, 2013
Really, what good is any of this doing for the Sixers except playing themselves out of a better lottery pick? It's frustrating.
Ultimately, it's sad because at this point of the season I can't even enjoy the type of performance the Sixers put on Friday. It was an overall good performance, too. They played hard and definitely deserved the win. But it just doesn't matter and I don't know how I'm supposed to feel good about it.
Miscenalleous Game Notes:
- Dorell Wright didn't play due to an elbow injury. Justin Holiday saw just under 7 minutes of playing time in his place and contributed 4 points on 2-6 shooting and 1 assist but he also had 3 personal fouls. Not a great game for either Holiday.
- Shelvin Mack, who we all totally forgot about, is on the Hawks now.
- Speaking of unforgotten people, Nick Young AKA Swaggy P actually played for the first time since being DNP-CD'd the last 7 games.
- Hawks physical big men Al Horford and Ivan Johnson sure gave Spencer Hawes fits when he tried to "defend" them. But don't worry Hawes is actually playing great!!!!!
- Are you ready for the Damien Wilkins overpay contract this summer?
- ATL perspective - Peachtree Hoops - [Recap]
7 games to go. Next up is Sixers at Heat on Saturday night.