The playoffs are in sight, and the Philadelphia 76ers need to get in the postseason mindset. Despite how shaky they've been playing lately and some negative speculation about them not making the playoffs, I think it's safe to assume that they will make it.
At the start of the season, it seemed as though the Sixers stood a legit chance to go fairly deep in the playoffs, but of course, along came some problems and places for improvement.
Entering the playoffs, the Sixers need to focus on these 10 important keys to help them win.
Although it's a whole new atmosphere in the playoffs, the Sixers cannot enter the playoffs sluggishly.
It could only hurt them.
Therefore, they must create some easy wins down the stretch and develop a win streak.
Entering the playoff scene after finishing the regular season strong certainly can't hurt.
When at its peak, the defense can be the most effective and dangerous part of this team.
In fact, they have the best defense in the league, holding teams to just 88.5 points per game.
Since the offense isn't nearly as effective, this is where the Sixers will most likely be winning their games.
For one thing, Andre Iguodala will need to do his best to isolate the opposing team's best player through shutdown defense while the big men stop forces down low and Jrue Holiday controls the opposing point guard.
It's important to understand that the Sixers just can't match up to some of the elite teams just yet.
Because of this, they need to execute on the small things that can add up and make a difference.
Philadelphia needs to work on playing smart and making the right passes.
On top of this, they must execute offensive plays.
As long as they make the best possible outcome out of everything, you can't ask for more.
And yes, this includes making free throws.
It's vital that Philadelphia takes each game possession by possession.
At a talent deficiency, they have to play objectively and tactically.
It may sound strange to use those terms, but they must play smart that way.
Although they are meant to be a fast-paced team, sometimes they'll need to slow things down and execute the half-court offense.
The lineup this year has been very experimental, and things must be settled for good by the time the playoffs are here.
Most importantly, though, Evan Turner had better see some serious playing time.
No one is expecting to win it all this year, so the playoffs this year would be great learning experience for Turner, not to mention the other young players who are part of the future of the team.
Bottom line: They need to feel comfortable entering the playoffs with a set lineup.
This is definitely one of the more important ones on the list.
If the Sixers want to win, they need to work on maximizing talent and work to everybody's strengths.
That means they need to work the perimeter well with Jodie Meeks and Lou Williams, while pounding the high post with Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young.
Andre Iguodala also needs to step up big time and execute at facilitating the offense and distributing the ball.
Maximizing talent can really pay off if they play to everyone's strengths.
The Sixers need to continue to flourish in the transition game.
When they find their groove with it, they can run up the score fast.
Being a young team, this is one of their major advantages, with the ability to run the floor.
Not only does it spark a rhythm offensively, but it also slows down the opposing team.
This is an obvious key to winning, but sadly must be addressed for their recent lack of offensive production.
In fact, they are the fifth-worst offensive team in the league right now, averaging just over 93 points per game.
Now, there's no reassurance the offense will get better when they play better teams, but they just need to do their best in boosting the offense.
They can do so by creating a spark through transition and winning offensive boards that lead to second-chance points.
The Sixers need to play tough both down low when grabbing boards and from the top penetrating the paint.
There are bigger teams out there, and Philadelphia cannot let themselves be taken advantage of.
To prevent this, they must hustle and go hard on every play and every rebound (Thad Young-esque).
If they remain strong throughout each game, they can definitely stay within reach to win.
This has been the dagger to Sixers fans this season hands down—their ability to close out games and show up in crunch time.
The Sixers face the worst problem any team could face—the lack of a superstar.
They don't have a go-to guy to give the ball to in the last seconds of the game, and it has been a negative impact numerous times this season.
During the playoffs, its necessary that they show up big not only in the final seconds but the entire fourth quarter. IN the final seconds they can go with who is hot, but it's vital that they finish strong overall.
If the Sixers want to do some damage, then they need to focus on these aspects of their game.
There are a lot of things to focus on, but they can do it.
As long as they put it all together, remain sound and get things settled, they should be in good shape.
Being a younger and more inexperienced team accounts toward a disadvantage. However, they are a team that can win on executing, hustling and going hard on every play.
Although right now things may not be looking in their favor, things can easily change just as fast as they did for the worse.