Philadelphia 76ers: Why Teams Should Not Overlook Them in the NBA Playoffs

Michael FoglianoAnalyst IMarch 23, 2011

Philadelphia 76ers: Why Teams Should Not Overlook Them in the NBA Playoffs

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    Yes, the Sixers are a very good team who hold the six seed and are, in fact, just three-and-a-half games behind the fifth-seeded Hawks. No need for pinching, because this is not a dream.

    If you have just hopped on the Sixers bandwagon, I would say you are over 20 games late.

    The Sixers are back and competing every night. No longer are they being crushed in games and running around like chickens without their heads—they are winning games.

    But even though the Sixers have made a tremendous turnaround, many teams in the NBA still overlook them and it kills me. Even after obtaining an identity in the league today, teams still doubt them.

    The Sixers are full of young talent and have one of the best benches in the league. They have a lot of quality wins, and close losses.

    They are chasing down the Hawks in the playoff seeding as they have just passed the New York Knicks.

    The Sixers are now a dangerous team, led by a blue-collar coach in Doug Collins. No team in the league should overlook the Sixers, and here's why...

Team Chemistry

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    If you take a look at the Sixers, you realize that there is no number one, All-Star player like most teams have. Yet, they find themselves ahead of a team like the Knicks who have Melo and Amare Stoudemire.

    Why is this?

    It's because of the team chemistry that the Sixers have. There is a reason why there are games where five players have double-digits, or why a single player can get red-hot.

    This season, the team's chemistry has skyrocketed. They have learned how to play with each other and now they gel like a true team.

    These guys are starting to work really well together. Andre Iguodala is the facilitator, Jrue Holiday is the assist man, Jodie Meeks/ Lou Williams are the shooters, Elton Brand is grabbing the boards, all while others are making great contributions as well.

    The young players on this team are growing and maturing as players, and the one thing that is growing most is the team chemistry. 

They Are Young

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    The Sixers are one of the youngest teams in the playoffs. Although to some it may seem a bad thing, it can also be seen as an advantage.

    The young talent the Sixers hold in players like Evan Turner, Jodie Meeks and Jrue Holiday is very unique. Holiday is turning into a one-of-a-kind point guard and also developing a three-point shot.

    Meeks is now a three-point threat and Turner is doing his best to maximize his potential.

    This young talent is very fast, strong and versatile. They will be able to stick with every player defensively throughout each game and will be hard to stop in the transition game.

    Plus, it's also good experience for every young player in the long run.

They've Beaten Great Teams

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    Throughout the season, the Sixers have faced many challenges along the way, but have succeeded in most.

    This season they have taken down top teams such as the Celtics, Spurs, Magic, Hawks and Bulls. Not only that, but they have also brought teams like the Lakers, Mavericks, Thunder and Heat down to the wire.

    The Sixers have proven that they can stick with any team in the league and can defeat any team in the league.

The New Elton Brand

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    Introducing the new and improved, yours truly, Elton Brand!

    Not only is the team's young talent growing, but even the older guys, especially Brand, have rejuvenated their game.

    Entering this season, he came in with a goal to improve and prove that he is worthy of his contract. Maybe he's not doing what he did back in his LA Clippers days, but he has improved and become one of the more valuable players on the team.

    This season he is averaging 15 points and just under nine rebounds per game. That's pretty solid if you ask me.

    These stats come from a completely different Brand, though. This one is now getting his points from jumpers at the elbow and grabbing boards, but the old Brand would get most of his points on the low-post.

    Brand has rejuvenated himself this season and is a very valuable player to the Sixers. 

Every Player Has Their Role

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    Jodieeeee Meeeeeekssss!

    Meeks is the perfect example this season of each player being assigned a role. This is the biggest reason why everyone is flourishing in the system that Doug Collins has provided.

    Last season (those dreadful Eddie Jordan days), no one had a role. It seemed like they were playing playground ball every game and no one was performing well.

    This season, Collins has assigned everyone their own role. Players like Meeks have improved and have become effective because they are focusing on one thing. Meeks is focusing on strictly shooting.

    Before, he was still trying to understand the professional game and learning his way around it. Now, Collins has helped him and told him to focus on his role.

    Meeks is now a dangerous shooter from three-point range and is a new threat for the defense to worry about. This spreads the opposing team's defense out, which gives more room for Brand in the middle to get some dirty work done at the high post (to rain those jumpers all day).

    This is by far one of the most dangerous things about this team.

They Have a Deep Bench

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    One important thing that everyone needs to realize is that the Sixers have one of the most versatile, young and deepest benches in the league today.

    Players like Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams, Jodie Meeks, Evan Turner and others all make huge contributions to the team.

    Anyone can lead the team to victory, and that is what's so great about them—any player on any given night can go all-out and the lead the team to victory. Maybe it's Williams dropping 20, or Young grabbing over 10 boards, or Meeks lighting it up from beyond the arc.

    But no matter what, it's always someone leading the way, and the funny thing is (and also scary), most of the time it's coming from someone off the bench.

Iguodala Is Being a Facilitator

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    This is probably one of the biggest reasons why this team is succeeding, aside from Collins.

    For a while, Andre Iguodala has received a lot of criticism form fans. They have always stated things like, "This guy can't be a number one player!" or, "You're not a superstar!"

    Now, I technically agreed with those statements at the time, and I think Iguodala did too. However, he has strengthened his game and adapted it to fit well with this team (and also to prove those statements wrong).

    No longer is Iguodala just scoring 17-20 points every game with a few boards and assists here and there. Instead, he is scoring in the mid to high teens, grabbing a lot of boards and dishing out a lot of assists.

    Basically, he's the distributor and the entire offense is revolving around him. He's doing a little bit of everything and is also being effective without the ball in his hands.

    This is what he needs to do, and he is doing it every night now. In the past, we saw signs of this, but now it's becoming an everyday thing.

    Technically, he is our best player right now as we are succeeding and poised for a big playoff run. Although the championship isn't here just yet, we are succeeding with him as our best player.

Doug Collins

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    If Doug Collins doesn't win the Coach of the Year award, then I don't know who will. He is the main reason why this team has made a huge step forward from last season.

    The players are flourishing in his system and his strategy of "not starting the best five players" has worked great. Collins has assigned each player his own role, which has helped tremendously, as I stated earlier.

    His extreme focus on defense has improved players defensive skills substantially. He is also amazing at working one on one with players.

    He helped Elton Brand rejuvenate himself and is focusing on each players growth and maturity individually.

    Collins is a true blue-collar guy that the Sixers needed as a coach—and that's exactly what they got. The young squad's development is in great hands under Doug Collins.

Conclusion

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    Out of any team in the league right now, the Sixers have grown the most. 

    They are led by a great coach, the young talent is maturing, and they have become a very dangerous team. Each player has his role, and is focused on one thing.

    The Sixers' great bench also makes them very dangerous. Plus, any player who comes off that bench can lead the team to victory, or pose a threat to the defense.

    Despite the great turnaround, this team is still overlooked. But not to worry Sixers fans, your team will get the respect it deserves come playoff time.