What Really is The Philadelphia Story?

Are the current Philadelphia 76ers this year’s Bulls?

Last season, the Chicago Bulls figured to be a good team that might rise into the top tier of the Eastern Conference by winning the weak Central Division.  Instead, the Bulls rode a suffocating defense and a marked improvement by their best player, MVP Derrick Rose, to 62 wins and #1 seed in the conference.

I don’t know think that anyone on the Sixers roster is going to mount an MVP candidacy (though Spencer Hawes has a solid case going for Most Improved Player), they are riding an elite defense into the league’s top echelon.  After the games of 01.10.12, they were 7-2 and boasted some impressive peripheral metrics.  Their defense ranked first in both points allowed per game, 86.5 and Defensive Rating 93.1.  Their scoring differential, plus 16 points per game, is outright scary.  The 72-10 Chicago Bulls of 1995-’96 only outscored their opponents by 12.3 points per game.

The Sixers monster differential is a reminder that their schedule has been somewhat soft so far.  Portland, Utah and Indiana are the only quality teams they’ve played so far, and the Pacers were missing Danny Granger for the game.  In fact, as John Smallwood pointed out today, the 76ers have benefited from opponents missing key players with surprising frequency.  Nevertheless, when you win seven of nine games and outscore your opponents by double digits in the process, there’s far more skill than luck at work.

The Sixers schedule doesn’t get mean again till late next week when the Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat show up on the slate.  The 76ers already lead the Atlantic Division by two and two and half games respectively over the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics.  They play the Knicks tonight at the Garden, and with a win they begin to change the dynamic of the Division race.  Instead of an old fashioned Knicks-Celtics duel for Atlantic supremacy, both of those teams will be chasing Philadelphia.

It’s been widely suggested that youth, continuity and depth are the keys to winning in this compressed season and the Sixers returned every member of their top eight from last season.  Of that eight, only forward Elton Brand is on the wrong side of 30, and no one on the team is averaging more than 35 minutes per game.

Two of the other Philadelphia sports teams, the Eagles and the Phillies made all the headlines are raised expectations with splashy offseason acquisitions.  Instead it’s the Sixers, a team that hasn’t had a winning record since 2005 and hasn’t been a title contender since 2002, who are the best bet for the postseason and success beyond that.

 

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About jmartin437

I've worked in and around the world of high end cheese for 27 years. I've been everything from a department manager who hired and fired and trained staffs to a weekend warrior who shows up ties on an apron the middle of a rush and talks to customers and cleans up the place. I enjoy it all, and I especially like my current situation conducting informal seminars about cheese at area bars and in class at the 92nd St. Y. The current schedule is always up at thejoyofcheese.blogspot.com. In addition I conduct private events that are perfect to lead off birthday parties for foodies and sommeliers and also they make great entertainment for corporate team building events and associates meetings at law firms. In addition, I've been a freelance journalist for 27 years. Currently my profiles of leading musicians and filmmakers appear in the Wall Street Journal and www.theroot.com. I also wrote about sports for the Root, and for five loooong years, which included the entirety of the Isiah Thomas Knicks era, I wrote about the NBA for the New York Sun. I enjoyed writing about basketball so much that I now do it here at rotations for free.
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2 Responses to What Really is The Philadelphia Story?

  1. klownboy says:

    It looks like I was wrong about the Sixers. I thought they’d be competing for last place in the Atlantic Division.
    http://theklowntimes.net/2011/12/17/2011-2012-nba-preview/

  2. jmartin437 says:

    Thanks for posting! I thought the Sixers would be a playoff team (they finished 38-28 after that horrible start last year), but I didn’t see them as this elite. Of course if Hawes gets hurt, then….

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