Philadelphia 76ers: Most Defining Moments of the Season

Haddon AndersonAnalyst IApril 8, 2012

Philadelphia 76ers: Most Defining Moments of the Season

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    The Philadelphia 76ers began the year as one of the biggest surprises but have appeared to have hit a wall as of late.

    Throughout the lockout-shortened season, there have been a handful of defining moments etched into Philly's ride. Coach Doug Collins and their vast array of contributors have given Sixer fans reason to be excited, but they've also had moments where it's clear this team is not yet a true contender.

    As we hit the stretch run and near the playoffs, it's time to analyze which moments capture their season in the best way.

    Here are the defining moments of the 76ers season and a rundown of what distinguishes these highlights and lowlights.

A Hot Start

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    The 76ers jetted to a quick start and were 10-3 at one point. They raised eyebrows because of their array of contributors.

    Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams and Evan Turner all showed flashes of stellar play in the backcourt, and Spencer Hawes, Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young proved to be a formidable bunch in the frontcourt.

    While many remained unconvinced that this team was in the elite category, they were still drawing praise from analysts and fans. Their team chemistry appeared decidedly fluid and they were buying into coach Doug Collins' defensive schemes.

    They were definitely headed in the right direction.

Statement Win over Chicago

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    On Feb. 1, the 76ers made a statement by beating one of the league's best teams, Chicago, by 16 points.

    This emphatic win squelched any doubts of whether this team could battle the best of teams.

    What's more, they did this in style. Andre Iguodala had a host of highlight-reel plays and had the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center rocking.

    This win boosted their record to 16-6 and gave them confidence that they have the ability to defeat anyone in the league. 

Adversity Strikes

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    As the Sixers neared the All-Star break, they upped their record to 20-9. At this juncture of the season, they didn't appear to be a fluke.

    But they then dropped five straight games (four of which were on the road) and found true adversity for the first time in the season.

    It didn't help that big man Spencer Hawes had to miss significant time with an injury, and suddenly the Sixers didn't appear to have the same life they possessed at the season's outset.

An All-Star Representative

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    While Andre Iguodala is not Philly's leading scorer, he is definitely their leader. His leadership was awarded this season as he received his first All-Star berth.

    The main praise for Iguodala is his versatility. He contributes across the board and is a legitimate threat for a triple-double in every game.

    Iguodala was certainly deserving of this appearance and gave the Sixers their first All-Star representative since Allen Iverson.

Praise for Doug Collins

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    Coach Doug Collins generated his rightful share of praise during the first half of the season. He made Philly into a competitive group and they didn't appear to have a solidified superstar (despite the fact that Iguodala was an All-Star).

    Throughout this season, Collins has helped lead the 76ers to success through defense and efficient offense. A bevy of different players have led the Sixers in scoring this year, which surely testifies to the fluidity of their team and players who have bought into their coach's system.

Post All-Star Break Blues

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    These slides can't stay overly flowery for too long, because things have turned south in Philly since the All-Star break.

    Earlier in the year, they appeared to be a bunch who could hang with the best of teams, but it's been a different story lately.

    They've lost twice to both Chicago and Miami and have dipped out of first place in the Atlantic Division. They've also dropped a few spots in the playoff standings.

    Earlier in the year, they were hoping to potentially gain home-court advantage in the first round. Now, they just need to finish the season with their heads above water, because if they continue to slump they could potentially miss the playoffs.

From Bad to Worse

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    In the past week, things have turned even worse in Philly. They've now lost four straight, including a couple games that turned into embarrassments.

    One of those embarrassments took place on their home floor, as they were routed by the lowly Toronto Raptors by 21 points.

    And most recently, they were blown out in Boston by 24 points.

    The floundering Sixers have fallen all the way to the eighth seed and are only one game ahead of ninth-seeded Milwaukee. 

    Things could actually get even worse if Philly continues to struggle and is surpassed by the Bucks for the final playoff spot.

???

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    How will this 76ers season be remembered?

    Will it feature a debacle that leaves them short of the postseason? 

    Will it be similar to last season, which featured squeaking into the playoffs before promptly being ousted?

    Or will the 76ers revive themselves and make noise come the playoffs?

    Whatever the case, the final defining moment lies ahead, but its outlook isn't looking hopeful for Philly fans.