Philadelphia 76ers Closing out Competiton with Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday

Allen VickersContributor IMarch 21, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 24:  Evan Turner #12 of the Philadelphia 76ers and Team Chuck posts up against Kemba Walker #1 of the Charlotte Bobcats and Team Shaq during the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge part of the 2012 NBA All-Star Weekend at Amway Center on February 24, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers sit atop of the Atlantic Division by a game-and-a-half on the Boston Celtics and are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, 11 games back of the surging Chicago Bulls.

The Sixers may seem like a middle-of-the-road team to some, but come playoffs they will be one of the most dangerous teams. This can be attributed to their bench, or as some call it the “Night Shift," which includes Sixers' leading scorer Lou Williams and the versatile Thaddeus Young.

Lou Williams is the Sixers' most clutch scorer, and Thaddeus Young is almost automatic with the mid-range shot. The Sixers' bench is one of the main reasons this team has stayed consistent this season. 

The recent emergence of Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday is also another key component of why the Sixers are winning. Since becoming a starter, Evan Turner has filled out the stat sheet with points and rebounds.

At 6’7" Evan Turner gives the Sixers size, and his ability to defend and rebound is definitely a positive.

Earlier in the season, Jrue Holiday looked a little lost in the offense as he committed an excess of turnovers, but he is starting to turn the corner and has become more confident with his shot.

In a loss against the Bulls Saturday, Holiday had one of his best games of his career, scoring 30 points, with five rebounds and five assists. In his last five games, he has averaged 16 points, almost four assists and only 2.2 turnovers per game.

If Philadelphia makes the playoffs, Holiday will be the Sixers' starting point guard, and these are the type of numbers they are looking for.

The rest of the team is also playing more consistently and sharing the ball.

Elton Brand has quietly become the power forward that Sixers fans have been clamoring about. Andre Iguodala has found his place in the offense and is leading the team in assists per game (5.6), along with steals (1.8).

The Sixers do not have a superstar like LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Kobe Bryant, but they have a group of players that can score and believe in what their coach is teaching. With that attitude, they will go far.   

The Sixers are also happy that Spencer Hawes is getting healthier. Hawes is one of the Sixers' few big men, so they will need his inside game if they want to be successful as the season starts to wind down.

They also added Sam Young last Tuesday in a trade from Memphis. Young gives the Sixers some size and speed. Doug Collins will be looking to find a spot in the rotation where Young's skills can flourish, and in doing so, the Sixers will be a lot stronger as the season goes along.

I believe the Sixers will try to out-run slower teams and make opponents take tough shots.

This formula has worked for them most of the season, so there is no reason to change it. They have the No. 1 defense in the league, allowing an average of 87.7 points per game.      

The rest of March will be a tough stretch for the Sixers, as they play the Knicks tonight at home followed by Boston on Friday. Then they travel south to face the Spurs.

The following three games are home vs. Cleveland, at Washington and home vs. Atlanta to finish out March.

This is an important stretch for the Sixers, because if they can go on a win streak, they can separate themselves from other teams in the division. But if they falter, the 76ers will lose their top spot in the division.