Some Eastern Conference teams may be in for a surprise when they are matched up against the Philadelphia 76ers in round one of the NBA Playoffs.
The Sixers are a team that no one is talking about heading into the playoffs. They are a young team that is playing very well together.
They are playing their best basketball when it matters most—late in the season.
Since Jan. 22, the Sixers are 17-7. That is one of the best records in the league.
During its current stretch, Philly has shown it can play with, and beat, quality playoff teams. Wins over the Knicks, Hawks, Spurs, Celtics and Nuggets should prove that the Sixers can compete.
Here is a list of how the Sixers match up against the Eastern teams, and if they can prevail or not.
PG: D.J. Augustin vs. Jrue Holiday EDGE: Sixers
SG: Steven Jackson vs. Jodie Meeks EDGE: Bobcats
SF: Gerald Henderson vs. Andre Iguodala EDGE: Sixers
PF: Boris Diaw vs. Elton Brand EDGE: Sixers
C: Kwame Brown vs. Spencer Hawes EDGE: Push
Most likely, it will be Charlotte or Indiana as the eighth seed in the East, unless New Jersey makes a late-season run with Deron Williams.
The Bobcats are a similar team to the Sixers. They are young and have a veteran scorer, along with a decent bench.
The Bobcats main scoring threat is Stephen Jackson. Andre Iguodala could switch and cover him to cancel him out.
The Sixers defense will feast on a weak Charlotte offense.
Prediction: Sixers in six
PG: Darren Collison vs. Jrue Holiday EDGE: Push
SG: Paul George vs. Jodie Meeks EDGE: Pacers
SF: Danny Granger vs. Andre Iguodala EDGE: Push
PF: Tyler Hansbrough vs. Elton Brand EDGE: Sixers
C: Roy Hibbert vs. Spencer Hawes EDGE: Pacers
Indiana is currently in a free fall, having lost eight of their last 10, but they still occupy the final seed in the East.
A matchup against the Sixers would mean a matchup against Granger and Iguodala. Granger is an All-Star scorer, but I think Iguodala would be able to limit him.
Both young PGs are very good and may be each team's most improved players.
In the end, I like the Sixers' overall scoring depth rather than relying on one or two guys like the Pacers do.
Prediction: Sixers in seven
PG: Chauncey Billups vs. Jrue Holiday EDGE: Knicks
SG: Landry Fields vs. Jodie Meeks EDGE: Knicks
SF: Carmelo Anthony vs. Andre Iguodala EDGE: Knicks
PF: Amare Stoudemire vs. Elton Brand EDGE: Knicks
C: Jared Jeffries vs. Spencer Hawes EDGE: Push
The Sixers are only .5 games behind the Knicks for the sixth seed in the East. Although they may finish with a better record than the Knicks, they would not get past them in a playoff series.
Philadelphia does not match up well with the Knicks starters. The only advantage the Sixers would have is their bench.
I cannot see the Sixers being able to handle Billups, Anthony and Stoudemire.
Prediction: Knicks in five
PG: Kirk Hinrich vs. Jrue Holiday EDGE: Sixers
SG: Joe Johnson vs. Jodie Meeks EDGE: Hawks
SF: Marvin Williams vs. Andre Iguodala EDGE: Sixers
PF: Josh Smith vs. Elton Brand EDGE: Hawks
C: Al Horford vs. Spencer Hawes EDGE: Hawks
It is the summer of 2008, and the Sixers have some cap room to spend after getting rid of Chris Webber.
In the end, they choose Elton Brand over Josh Smith.
Was it the right call?
No one will ever know. The closest we can get is to have the two face off against one another.
Smith would have fit perfectly in the Sixers' high flying attack, but Brand provides a half-court post presence they have been desiring since God knows when.
A Hawks/Sixers match up would definitely be one of the best and most fun to watch series. It could go either way.
Prediction: Sixers in seven
PG: Jameer Nelson vs. Jrue Holiday EDGE: Push
SG: Jason Richardson vs. Jodie Meeks EDGE: Magic
SF: Hedo Turkolgu vs. Andre Iguodala EDGE: Sixers
PF: Dwight Howard vs. Elton Brand EDGE: Magic
C: Brandon Bass vs. Spencer Hawes EDGE: Push
If the Sixers keep playing well, this may be the team that they play in the first round.
The Magic seem to be rounding into playoff form, winning six of their last nine. Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson are starting to contribute more and more.
The depth that Orlando has, added to the Dwight Howard factor, will prove to be too much for Philadelphia.
Prediction: Magic in six
PG: Mario Chalmers vs. Jrue Holiday EDGE: Sixers
SG: Dwayne Wade vs. Jodie Meeks EDGE: Heat
SF: LeBron James vs. Andre Iguodala EDGE: Heat
PF: Chris Bosh vs. Elton Brand EDGE: Heat
C: Erick Dampier vs. Spencer Hawes EDGE: Push
The Sixers played Miami twice earlier in the season and lost both times. However, they did play well against them when they were expected to be blown out.
Early in the season, Philly struggled in the fourth quarter. The Sixers were right with Miami in the second game, and they let it slip away.
Matching up against the Heat in a playoff series would mean the end of the season for the Sixers.
Something tells me, when the lights go on and the playoffs begin, the Heat will reach a new level of play and start to beat winning teams.
Prediction: Heat in four
PG: Derrick Rose vs. Jrue Holiday EDGE: Bulls
SG: Keith Bogans vs. Jodie Meeks EDGE: Push
SF: Luol Deng vs. Andre Iguodala EDGE: Sixers
PF: Joakim Noah vs. Elton Brand EDGE: Push
C: Carlos Boozer vs. Spencer Hawes EDGE: Bulls
If the playoffs were to begin today, the Sixers would be matched up against the Bulls.
The Bulls play very good defense and have the second best scoring defense in the NBA.
With the Sixers having limited scoring threats, chalk up the series for Chicago.
The combo of Rose, Deng and Boozer combine for over 60 points per night.
Prediction: Bulls in five
PG: Rajon Rondo vs. Jrue Holiday EDGE: Celtics
SG: Ray Allen vs. Jodie Meeks EDGE: Celtics
SF: Paul Pierce vs. Andre Iguodala EDGE: Celtics
PF: Kevin Garnett vs. Elton Brand EDGE: Celtics
C: Nenad Krstic vs. Spencer Hawes EDGE: Celtics
Seems pretty lopsided, doesn't it? The starting five drastically favors Boston in this series.
Boston has one of the best starting fives in the league.
However, the Sixers have played tough against Boston this year, going 1-2 against them. They lost by a combined five points in the two losses.
The Sixers won their most recent meeting against the Celtics, who were without Glen Davis.
The Sixers bench could outscore and outplay the Celtics bench. Too bad the starters play most of the game.
Prediction: Celtics in five