Skip to content

The 76ers are legit. But can they win big playoff games?

Feb 2, 2012, 2:22 PM EDT

Philadelphia 76ers v Miami Heat Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers beat the Chicago Bulls Wednesday night. Yes, a Bulls team without Luol Deng or Richard Hamilton, but still the team with the best record in the east and the reigning MVP Derrick Rose.

As I said in the recaps, this was another clear sign that the Sixers are legit. They are a top three/four seed in the East, they are going to win a lot of games and be a tough team to beat come the playoffs. They are balanced, have fantastic ball movement and play great defense.

But in the playoffs, will Philly be able score at the end of close games without a superstar? Conventional wisdom is you need a star who can create his own shot late in tight games (like Dirk Nowitzki did for the Mavericks last year). Can the 76ers really be considered a contender without one?

In an interesting, wide-ranging interview with Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated, Sixers GM Rod Thorn says we are all going to find out about that together.

So Rod, can the Sixers win regularly in the payoffs, can they score enough late in the game without a superstar to give the ball and get out of the way?

That’s the $64,000 question: Can you do that night in and night out in close games? It’s an advantage to have someone who can get a good shot, or get fouled late in the ball game. Even the bad teams, if the games are close late, on the defensive end of the court, they get much harder and much better. And it’s harder to just run plays. Patterns you’ve run all night — it’s harder to do late. So ultra-talent certainly helps late. But with us and with Denver, you don’t know where it’s coming from.

If you’re playing the Lakers, you know what they’re going to do down the court every time late in the game.

So, are the Sixers contenders right now?

That’s a leap for us right now. We just made the playoffs as the seventh-place team. We’re definitely better this year when we have all of our pieces healthy. Spencer [Hawes] was an incredible plus for us in the first eight games. It put us on another level. We haven’t had him for a while. I think we can compete with anybody, but we have to prove we can play at that level, with those really, really elite teams.

I think the Sixers are good. Probably the third best team in the East, but the gap up to one and two is huge. Wednesday night was a good win for the 76ers, but it was an early season win with the Bulls missing some key pieces. I like Jrue Holiday, I love Lou Williams off the bench, I love how Spencer Hawes has stepped up. I still don’t think the Sixers can beat the Bulls or Heat over a seven game series.

But both the Sixers and Nuggets are good teams without a classic superstar this season, and come the playoffs they are going to be interesting to watch. Unless you are the Bulls, Heat and Thunder, in which case they are teams to avoid.

  1. illcomm - Feb 2, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    Since when did Dirk play for the Caveliers. I thought he won with Dallas last year. Guess i was wrong or maybe the guy who wrote this article is.

    • BrownsTown - Feb 2, 2012 at 3:11 PM

      Just some “satire” from Kurt, the guy who, ironically, says that Cleveland fans haven’t let go of the LeBron thing..

  2. illcomm - Feb 2, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    And Hawes hasn’t played in the last ten games. Yes the bulls were missing deng and Hamilton, but the sixers are missing their two top centers. Also season is a third of the way through already.

  3. klownboy - Feb 2, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    Wow, and I had the Sixers finishing next to last in the Atlantic Division. Shows how much I know, right?
    http://theklowntimes.net/2011/12/17/2011-2012-nba-preview/

    • somekat - Feb 3, 2012 at 12:55 PM

      it just shows that you are a knicks homer (no reason ever for the sixers to be behind the nets or raptors, that’s a joke), who like other knicks homers, are just not beginning to realize that, even though the league has tried to change it, basketball is still a team game. You can’t win when your team strategy is “I’m gonna get mine”

  4. burnsy - Feb 2, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    The 6ers won two pretty big playoff games last year.

    • passerby23 - Feb 2, 2012 at 9:23 PM

      Actually, the Sixers lost in 5 games to the Heat, but it was a pretty competitive series and they are better this year. The East is getting tougher; there won’t be any first round gimmes this year. The Celtics could be the 8th seed. Who wants to play them in the first round?

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 3, 2012 at 8:16 AM

      One. And they were down 3-0 when they won their one game. But nevertheless, they are good. And fun to watch. They can easily pull out a win tonight.

  5. jblah - Feb 3, 2012 at 7:33 AM

    they should be able to get past the 1st round this year since they will probably finish #3 in the East. I’m anxious to see how they handle the Heat today. Lebron has been killing them.

  6. ferhatiggy - Feb 3, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    ‘But with us and with Denver, you don’t know where it’s coming from.’guys focus that.It can be aphorism.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Warriors vs. Clippers playoff preview
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. C. Anthony (3423)
  2. L. James (3417)
  3. D. Williams (3409)
  4. K. Love (3397)
  5. D. Wade (3367)
  1. S. Curry (3303)
  2. R. Westbrook (3046)
  3. K. Durant (2899)
  4. R. Rondo (2710)
  5. A. Bogut (2695)