With the playoffs virtually out of reach for the Sixers, there is not much to look forward to in April. However, the recent play of Spencer Hawes is one.
As most of us know, Silver Linings Playbook was a highly celebrated book and movie which took place in Philly, and it even involved a local professional team as a prominent supporting character.
Although that team was the Eagles and not the Philadelphia 76ers, the title is apropos for how disenfranchised fans can view the final month of the latter’s season.
With the playoffs almost certainly out of reach at this point, the following are games that could still provide a silver lining to an otherwise cloudy year of basketball in town.
Whether it be the recent resurgence of Spencer Hawes, the chance to play spoiler or finally seeing extended minutes from younger guys such as Arnett Moultrie, it's time to put those rose-colored glasses on...
Why, you may ask, would a fan want to watch a clearly overmatched Sixers squad go up against the Miami Heat? To which I respond: Why not?
As the last legitimate contenders on their schedule, it is the last opportunity this season to see them go up against the likes of LeBron and friends.
Thing is, in the midst of the Heat’s epic winning streak, the Sixers played them tough twice in a five-day span (even leading at halftime in one of them), but they simply tanked a quarter in each contest: the fourth on March 8 and the second on March 13.
Now that the streak is behind them (and oh by the way, this would have been the record-tying No. 33 if it had kept going), perhaps Jrue and crew can catch a sleeping giant daydreaming about the postseason.
Prediction: Heat 96, Sixers 89
Regardless of the records, divisional matchups can often be fun to watch, as familiarity can breed contempt. And after the last outing against the Brooklyn Nets on March 11, where the Sixers won in convincing fashion, Deron Williams and Co. should be looking for payback.
Meanwhile, Philly has the chance to play a little spoiler role, as the Nets could still realistically land anywhere from a second to a sixth seed in the playoff standings.
During the last victory, Spencer Hawes had one of the best outings of his career, notching 24 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and a couple of blocks, to boot. If he produces anything close to that this time around, he and his teammates stand a good chance at evening the season series at two.
Prediction: Nets 103, Sixers 97
The spoiling can continue the very next day at home against the Atlanta Hawks, currently slotted sixth in the conference. Being that this will be the second time they face each other in four days, it should allow Doug Collins and his staff to recalibrate.
Plus, the Hawks were victims of one of the Sixers’ most convincing wins this season, a 99-80 blowout on Dec. 21.
Although the second half of back-to-backs haven’t been kind to them thus far, this could very well be where they finally make good on one.
Prediction: Sixers 96, Hawks 86
It’s official: Evan Turner enjoys playing against the Cleveland Cavaliers. In three contests this year, he has averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and nearly seven assists. Yes, that’s right, Evan Turner is hot in Cleveland. So basically, if he played only the Cavs all season, no one would be making claims of him underachieving or inferring he’s been a bust.
It’s not a stretch to assume that the former Ohio State Buckeye rises to the occasion when he sees them on the schedule. But alas, there are 28 other teams ET must face over the course of the year, as well. However, when Turner finds his groove, it’s a fun thing to watch, and since it’s typically a crapshoot to figure out which night he puts it all together, you may as well tune in for this one.
Plus, as the Sixers’ final home game, one would hope the rest of the players would also rise to the occasion. It says here they do, giving the fans free Big Macs on the way out by hitting the century mark.
Prediction: Sixers 104, Cavs 89
This could be an ideal no-lose situation for the Sixers.
It is entirely possible that, in addition to the aforementioned predicted victories over the Hawks and Cavs—and with a game against the Washington Wizards wedged in between them—a “W” over the Detroit Pistons could give the Sixers their first four-game winning streak all year.
For those who feel that's too little, too late, the other scenario is that they could have simply begun the tanking process by this point and found themselves in a battle for lottery positioning. If that’s the case, it may mean an opportunity for an extended look at the likes of Arnett Moultrie, Charles Jenkins and perhaps even a couple of others on the final year of their contracts hoping to raise their market value.
Prediction: Sixers 92, Pistons 80