Philadelphia 76ers and the Biggest Playoff Sleepers in the Eastern Conference

Trevor Lowry@@TheTrevorLowryContributor IApril 11, 2012

Philadelphia 76ers and the Biggest Playoff Sleepers in the Eastern Conference

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    Outside of the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat, pretty much every team is a sleeper in the NBA's Eastern Conference. 

    These two heavyweights are obviously picked to play each other in the Eastern Conference Finals, and they are easily the two best teams in the East.

    With that said, maybe, just maybe, there are some other teams in the East that have a chance to make the Eastern Conference Finals. Who knows, maybe the NBA Finals as well.

    Read on to find out the biggest playoff sleepers in the Eastern Conference, which include the Philadelphia 76ers.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Record: 30-27

    Eastern Conference Position: 7th

    The Philadelphia 76ers got off to a great start this season, but have been on the decline as of late. Sad, but true, the 76ers have lost four straight games in a row.

    However, what makes this Philadelphia team so good is the fact of how well-rounded it is.

    Lou Williams may lead the team with 15.1 points per game, but there are four other 76ers who average 10 or more points per game. There are also two other players on the team who average at least nine points per game.

    To say that this team spreads the ball around is an understatement.

    Philadelphia is one of the most well-rounded teams in the league. This 76ers squad may hold the seventh spot in the East, but they are very young and talented. Not to mention, the 76ers are one of the best teams in the league when it comes to defense. Philadelphia only allows 88.5 points per game, which is the best in the NBA.

    This team may be missing a star, but that does not mean that it is not capable of making a deep run in the playoffs this year. 

Atlanta Hawks

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    Record: 34-23

    Eastern Conference Position: 5th

    It is starting to become a yearly tradition for the Atlanta Hawks to make the playoffs. The only catch is they can't seem to get past the second round.

    Atlanta has all of the talent in the world to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but they can't seem to do so.

    Josh Smith and Joe Johnson lead this team with 18.9 points per game. After them, there are two other guys in double figures.

    However, it does not help that Al Horford has been injured most of the season. Horford is a very important key to this team, and without him the Hawks lose a great defender, scorer and rebounder. 

    Even without Horford, though, the Hawks have one of the best defenses in the league, only allowing 93.2 points per game, which is good enough for fifth in the league. 

Indiana Pacers

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    Record: 35-22

    Eastern Conference Position: 3rd

    Is it really possible to be a sleeper when you are the third-best team in your conference? Well, it is when the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat are in the same conference. 

    The Pacers have clearly been the third-best team in the East all season long, but they are just a step behind the Heat and Bulls.

    Just like the 76ers, the Indiana Pacers are a very well-rounded team, but the Pacers probably have the most complete team in the league.

    Indiana has six players that average more than 10 points per game, and Tyler Hansbrough is just short of this number, averaging 9.3 points per game on the season.

    The Pacers have a great player at every position, they have a star in Danny Granger and they also have an up-and-coming center in Roy Hibbert.

    With so much talent on the roster, don't expect this team to be a sleeper for long.

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