With New York and Boston struggling, there’s room for a new team atop the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. Right now, the Philadelphia 76ers are taking advantage, jumping out of the gates to a 6-2 record.
Looking at who they’ve, you could probably argue that the 76ers are benefitting from a soft schedule. Their most impressive win came last night against Indiana, but the Pacers were playing without their leading scorer, Danny Granger.
Right now, the 76ers are 5th in the league in points per game and 1st in points allowed. Is this all because of their cupcake schedule or is Philly going to be a team to contend with?
During last night’s game against the Pacers, I saw flashes of a very good team and flashes of a very bad team. The 76ers are incredibly streaky, capable of putting up a lot of points in a short period of time and going cold as well. There were stretches during the game where it seemed like all they were doing was turning the ball over. They were up by 15 points a couple of times in the game and let the Pacers get it back within 5, they were never able to really put them away until the final minute.
The 76ers’ biggest asset may be their bench. They don’t have any real superstars on the team, the closest they come is Andre Iguodala, but they’re solid all the way down. They have a balanced scoring attack, last night they had six players in double figures. Their leading scorer on the season is Lou Williams, who comes off the bench. Last night, the Pacers jumped out to an early lead, the chemistry wasn’t there for the 76ers and they were turning the ball over, so coach Doug Collins subbed out 3 of the starting 5. At that point the team just seemed to gel and they went on a run to jump out to a big lead.
Statistically and from a fan standpoint, this is actually a rather boring team to watch because they’re not going to do much to fill up the highlight reel, but they could give teams trouble with their team-first mindset.
With all that being said, I think their big strength may also be what keeps them from really competing at the top of the Eastern Conference. They’re such a solid team, but without any real All-Stars, it will be tough for them to keep up with teams like the Bulls and the Heat. They play solid team basketball, but in this day and age of “Super Teams,” team basketball is not going to be what gets it done.
We may not get to find out for a while how good this team really is. The 76ers next 5 games are against the Kings, the Knicks, the Wizards twice and the Bucks. They could easily be 11-2 and have the best record in the NBA at that point. Their real test comes in February when they kick off the month with the Bulls, Heat, Hawks, Lakers, Spurs then Clippers. Then we’ll really know for sure what they’re made of.