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Investigating The Sixers and Their Injury-Ridden Opponents

You already know the Sixers are 7-2, winners of six straight and tops in the Atlantic Division. And you've probably noticed a few times that the Sixers have played an opponent that's not been at full speed. But I doubt you realize just how debilitated the Sixers' opposition has been in games versus Philly.

Let's consult the statistics.

Sixers 107, Warriors 79 - Golden State was without their best offensive weapon (and non-Sixer) Monta Ellis who was out with "a family matter", replacing him with rookie Klay Thompson. 'Ta averaged 21 points and 8 assists going into that game. Klay scored 3 points on 3 shots in 26 minutes. Not exactly replacement level.

Sixers 101, Hornets 93 - An already-terrible New Orleans club was missing their best defensive wing in Trevor Ariza, having to insert second year sack of raw potatoes Al-Farouq Aminu in his stead. Until Ariza had gotten hurt the previous game, he had been right around his career norms of 11, 6, and 3. Aminu played 20 minutes of illiterate basketball, going 0-4 from the field for zero points.

Pistons 73, Sixers 96 - The happily mediocre Pistons were without Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, and Rodney Stuckey. Now, I don't particularly think any of those guys are good basketball players. But they can each score and, when the team they did put out there shot 36% from the field and missed all 10 of their three-point attempts, it's clear some offense would've been welcomed even at the expense of the the other end. They were replaced by Brandon Knight (5-15), Jonas Jerebko (3-9), and Austin Daye (2-11). The trend continues.

Pacers 86, Sixers 96 - What was supposed to be their first true test of the winning streak was made significantly easier by the fact that Danny Granger and George Hill were in street clothes. Danny (food poisoning) was replaced by Dahntay Jones who did a decent job (12 points on 10 shots) but because he was out, Andre Iguodala switched over to Paul George, who was supposed to take on a bigger role. PG shot 4-16 for 13 points along with 5 giveaways. Hill had AJ Price take his backup point guard duties and the laptop snatcher went 1-7 from the field in 15 minutes. While Granger hasn't been his best so far, he's still their best option, and an efficient Hill would have done wonders at both ends of the court to limit turnovers and poor shot selection.

Kings 85, Sixers 112 - And just like that, the JIMMER gets his first start in the bigs. Marcus Thornton was out with a left thigh contusion so Jimmer Fredette started in his place. Young James went 2-7 in 24 minutes, turned the ball over thrice, and played some of the worst defense the NBA has seen this season. Though MT isn't exactly a stud on the other end, he's a glove compared to Jimmer and his offense makes up for defensive shortcomings. Without Thornton on the road, the Sixers exploited the Kings lack of depth and notched another win.

I'm not saying these wins don't count, I'm not saying these wins aren't important, nor am I saying that if these guys were healthy, the Sixers wouldn't be 7-2. But when trying to judge a team on their current merits and future indicators, all wins are not created equal. These are five opponents missing crucial players that fell to the hands of a healthy, chemistry-happy, fresh team. It speaks volumes about Collins that he has his guys focused enough to play each game til the final whistle, but it doesn't make them a title contender or anything other than a decent team with some casual NBA fans talking.

We'll see what happens when the Sixers face the Knicks tonight, who will be without Baron Davis - yet to play a game for NY. They've got three relatively cake games (Wizards x2, Bucks before a loaded threesome of Denver/Atlanta/Miami wait. That'll be when their marbles are weighed. Against bad teams without their best offensive weapon, they don't even register on the scale. Patience, friends.

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