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It all comes down to this.

You know the feeling you get in your stomach before the final pre-season game? The one where you've had enough meaningless, poorly-played basketball and are anxious to get the real season underway? That's the same feeling I have going into tonight's match-up against LeBron and the Cavs. It's not the way I want to feel before the final regular season game, buy hey, it is what it is.

On a scale of 1-10, my excitement for this game is about a 2.1, when normally it's an 11. I have to be completely honest, watching the Sixers play their last six games has really worn on me. It's been depressing to watch. I'm more than ready to end this depressing stretch of basketball and for the playoffs to start, where everybody has a clean slate.

Normally heading into the post-season, teams want to be playing their best basketball -- peaking at the right time. Well, the Sixers are doing the complete opposite. An inevitable loss at the hands of King James and the Cavs en route to a 40-1 home record will stretch the Sixers losing streak to seven games. They haven't just lost seven straight games, but have looked as atrocious as a team could possibly look in doing so.

However; in the midst of this seven-game losing streak, there is hope. A lot of the Sixers poor play down the stretch can be credited to their best offensive weapon, Thaddeus Young being sidelined with a bum ankle. The good news is he returned last night and now has one more opportunity to tune-up before the playoffs.

With Thaddeus on the floor the Sixers are a completely different team. Let's not forget, this is the same roster who went into LA and into Portland and handed two of the NBA's best teams rare home court losses. Neither win is remotely possible without Thad. So, with a healthy Thad why can't history repeat itself in the first round?

The Sixers will have their doubters. "Experts" will say they don't have enough shooters. "Experts" will say they don't have a superstar. "Experts" will predict the defending champs stomp them in the first round. My reply to all the "experts": good! Count the Sixers out for the 275th time this season. That's when this team is at their best.

Thaddeus regaining his legs and staying injury-free are the only things I care about in tonight's game. I don't care if we get blown out and highlights of it are shown across ESPN tomorrow morning. I don't care if Cleveland ties an NBA record. I don't care about LeBron's pre-game rituals. If the basketball gods will just allow me to come out feeling 100 percent confident in Thad's ankle and with a relatively healthy basketball team, I'll be thrilled. Other than that, nothing matters until tip-off in game one of round one.

Check out Fear the Sword for the Cavs perspective. And for those of you who are overly-optimistic, the Sixers still have a small chance at the six seed. They would need to beat the Cavs and pray the Bulls lose to the Raptors-- neither of which I see happening.

Tip's at 8 eastern. Be here, or don't. I will forgive you if you decide to rely strictly on my brilliant recap and the box score for this one. Just make sure you're back here this weekend when we all lose our Playoff Game Thread virginity.

Until then...



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