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Well now that teams are clinching divisions and spots in the postseason I thought it would be cool to go ahead and preview each team that is going to be a part of the 2009 NBA Postseason. I will do one for each team as they clinch a playoff spot and since we already have teams that have clinched, we will start with them. Now we will continue with the team all of the top teams in the Eastern Conference are looking to avoid: the Philadelphia 76ers.
When you talk about Philadelphia's biggest asset there's always one thing you mention: the fact that Philadelphia is extremely athletic and almost impossible to predict on the offensive side of the basketball. With the 76ers throwing Andre Miller, Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young out there in the starting lineup, the 76ers provide a team with a lot of options and different spots from which to attack you. All of these players can hit the mid range jump shot but really thrive when defenders overcommit and leave the players with the opportunity to attack the basket and either finish at the rim, take the foul or kick it out to an open player. For that reason, both Miller and Iguodala are very effective passers and usually make the right move. The 76ers even start Reggie Evans and Samuel Dalembert as well, who are very good at moving up and down the court for big men. Niether will probably average a double double in the playoffs but both can get put backs and frustrate big men on the offensive side of the basketball. Also, the 76ers' athleticisim is heightened when their shooters, Lou Williams and Willie Green, are knocking down open jump shots and stretching out the defense and forcing defenders to leave the paint.
On defense, the 76ers have a lineup that's entirely capable of playing solid man on man basketball. Iguodala is big and athletic enough to stay in front of whoever the oppostion's best wing man is. Young is long enough to be versatile on defense and Dalembert is an absolute force around the basket blocking shots and grabbing rebounds. Also, because of the 76ers athleticism they can play a very effective rotating zone and can keep teams from getting to Dalembert and the basket. And because of Dalembert acting as the safety net, players like Iguodala, Young and Miller (who always seems to make the right decision with the basketball) can take chances and go for loose balls which then starts the fast break that the 76ers are at their best with.
The 76ers are a horrible jump shooting team. The aforementioned Lou Williams and Willie Green are their only hopes as far as shooting the basketball is concerned and even still they're not the definition of consistent. Andre Iguodala has worked hard on his three point shot and has actually done pretty good behind the arc, but he shoots a very low percentage and is not reliable with his jump shot. He's someone you'd much rather see take it to the basket, which happens to be the case with a lot of the players on this team. I just don't see them getting desperate enough to play Kareem Rush and Donyell Marshall significant minutes in the playoffs and they are the best shooters on the team but they haven't played much this year and that has to show what Coach DiLeo feels about the players.
Because of that, the 76ers will be hard pressed to succeed if teams slow the game down too much. Last year against Detroit, the 76ers struggled when the opposition kept the point total really low and frustrated Philadelphia when they came up with big shots. Because when the game slows down, they have nobody who can hit a jump shot or a big man who thrives around the basket. Elton Brand was heavily criticized when he was healthy this season, but he'd be huge in the postseason for Philadelphia because Dalembert, Evans, Theo Ratliff and Marreese Speights aren't going to wow anyone with their post moves around the basket. The 76ers will run into trouble when games are slowed down considerably and are going to be hard pressed to score points.
Why They Will Win It
Top to bottom nobody can keep up with the 76ers. If they get into a groove and force turnovers, play pesky defense and take their opponents to the basket then the 76ers will be incredibly tough to beat. They can get your best player in foul trouble and can really frustrate you with their ability to stay in games. Teams that play them usually get caught up in the fast paced game with them even though that plays to Philadelphia's strengths. Also, when Dalembert is actually playing hard he can be a force rebounding the basketball and can really cut off other teams' second chance points and start the fast break for Philadelphia. All of the 76ers strengths go back to effort adn this is a team that plays incredibly hard every single night.
Why They Won't Win It
When the 76ers are forced to make jump shots, they may struggle to do so and that could be the crippling weakness for the Sixers. This is a team that can go through spells where they don't make a field goal, and nobody on the team is capable of getting hot with their jump shot consistantly enough to really stretch and scare defenses. Also, Dalembert, for all the hustle points he brings along, is absolutely a non factor on offense as is Reggie Evans. And when the Sixers go small and start Willie Green, teams can take advantage of that lineup by taking them to the basket.
It's really all up to who the 76ers draw in the first round. They're a dangerous team, even if a dangerous team with a lot of flaws. They can defeat any of the top teams in the Eastern Conference for at least the first round and if they match up with Atlanta or Miami they can really take advantage of the lack of poise both of those teams posses and get out of the first round still playing their style of ball. Miller and Iguodala have to carry this team and they're capable of doing so for at least one series. However, that can only last so long, and eventually they'll run into a team (maybe in the first round) that can stop them from playing their game and that can eleminate them. One thing's for sure: the 76ers play as hard as any team in the league. So effort won't be a problem, therefore they'll be in every game and every series they participate in. But a lack of a post game and a lack of jump shooters will keep the 76ers from hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy in June.
The next team to clinch will be covered in the next preview.