Are the Sixers for real?
Philly's roster is young, deep and talented, but can it hang with Chicago and Miami?
The Sixers have gotten off to a fast start this season.
In the NBA, a team should never have to apologize for a win or multiple wins.
Indeed, whether it's because of good fortune, bad luck, injuries, suspensions, strange calls or stranger bounces (the Boston Celtics won a title on one of the strangest bounces off a rim), it's all part of the game.
So when a team such as the Philadelphia 76ers surges through the first few weeks of the season winning games the toughest of ways -- blowing out opponents on the road -- it's certainly done its job and doesn't deserve conditional respect or an asterisk next to its name while sitting in first place in the Atlantic Division standings.
Their 10-4 record suggests yes, while their personnel suggests no. To be sure, Philadelphia is a well-balanced team, ranking among the league's top three in both offensive and defensive efficiency. It is no surprise that the 76ers are defending well considering they employ a top-three wing defender in Andre Iguodala, a strong and smart power forward in Elton Brand, a highly motivated center in Spencer Hawes and a host of agile, strong and explosive athletes at every other position. They play to their strengths; their coach stresses defense and they play it with energy and purpose most of the time.
The bottom line here is that, based on who they've beaten, the 76ers still cannot yet be considered "elite" or on the same level as Chicago or Miami. However, the 76ers are for real -- a solid team that has a decent chance of making the playoffs. Here are a few reasons:
Developing young players
Of this aforementioned group, only Brand is considered a player on the downside of his career. Even if none of the younger players get much better, they can still be a factor in the East, but Holiday, Turner, Vucevic, Young and Hawes can all be expected to get better, as they possess skill and basketball IQ and lack only experience.
If these youngsters mature rapidly, it would improve the 76ers' depth, which would make them a much tougher out in a seven-game series against either Miami or Chicago.
Strength of schedule
However, the schedule continues to be a benefit for Philadelphia. The road looks smooth through February in that the 76ers play only two "tough" road games, at Miami and Orlando.
Assets to trade
Even without a move, the Sixers are built to be in the mix near the top of the Eastern Conference, from now through April. They're not in the Bulls-Heat realm yet, but the talent and growth potential is in place in Philadelphia for this team to be a force in the East this season and going forward.
原文标题:Are the Sixers for real?
原文作者: David Thorpe