Philadelphia 76ers Preview for March 4-10

Jrue Holiday needs to find his shot if the Philadelphia 76ers are to have any chance in the week ahead.The 76ers have had a rough go of late. Since February 9th they’re 1-8 with a 7 game losing streak, one lucky win over the Golden State Warriors and then a meltdown against John Wall and the Washington Wizards. This upcoming week doesn’t look very good either. It actually looks plain nasty.  Three of their four games this week are against playoff teams Boston, Atlanta, and the defending champion Miami Heat.

Tuesday March 5, 2013

Vs. Boston Celtics (31-27) in Philadelphia 7:00 pm

The Celtics are the most hated Philadelphia rival and this current version has done nothing to ease that hatred. Kevin Garnett has been a grumpy old man since he came in to the league at 18 years old, but he’s more surly now as his career is coming to an end. That doesn’t mean that Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and the rest of the team are bad, but they’re not the Celtics of 5 years ago. With Rajon Rondo out for the season with a torn ACL, the Celtics should have fallen apart, but they haven’t and still maintain the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference Playoff Race.

Prediction: Boston 94 – 76ers 87

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Wednesday March 6, 2013

Vs. Atlanta Hawks (33-26) in Atlanta 7:30 pm

The Hawks hold the 6th seed in the Eastern conference and have been holding a little better than even (6-4) over their last ten games. The problem for the 76ers when facing up with the Hawks is that Al Horford and Josh Smith are playing very well, with both averaging over 17 points per game. Horford also brings along a 10 rebound per game average with Smith just behind him at 8.7 rebounds per game. This does not look well for the 76ers whose interior defense and play, while bolstered by the return of Thad Young, is still borderline horrible on a regular basis and since the 76res won 99-80 back in December over Atlanta, it’s just fallen apart. I would expect a heavy dose of Smith and Horford with the 76ers not being able to do much about them down low.

Prediction: Atlanta 93 – 76ers 82

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Friday, March 8, 2013

Vs. Miami Heat (44-14) in Miami 8:00 pm

At one point the Heat were 29-14 and everyone was wondering if there was a hangover from last years championship season. The Heat answered that with a 15 game win streak and the games are not very pretty from an opposing teams point of view.  LeBron James seems to have turned a corner in his career and decided that he needs to assert himself more in showing people that he is the best player on the planet. Currently, he’s averaging, 27 points, 8.2 rebounds, 7.2 assists per game while shooting over 56% from the field. The part that is amazing is that he’s shooting a lot of jump shots. When the playoffs roll around and LeBron starts to work down low, it’s hard to imagine anyone stopping the Heat. When LeBron isn’t on top of his game, not that there have been those nights this year, Dwyane Wade seems to have found his game again and steps up when needed. This will be just as bad if not worse than the 114-90 beat down the Heat handed the 76ers back on February 23rd.

Prediction: Heat 109 – Sixers 87

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Sunday March 10, 2013

Vs. Orlando Magic (17-44) in Orlando 6:00 pm

The Orlando Magic are the second to worst team in the Eastern Conference.  They’re only 3 ½ games better than a horrible Charlotte Bobcats team. The issue with the Magic is that they have a quality point guard in Jameer Nelson and they’re starting center is a guy who’s name you may recognize, Nikola Vucevic. He’s the guy that Doug Collins couldn’t find minutes for last season, sort of like Arnett Moultrie this year. He’s also averaging 12 points and 11 rebounds per game in a little over 32 minutes per game. It’s the type of output that the 76ers expected when they drafted him 16th overall in the 2011 NBA draft. In order to get the largest bowler in Philly, the 76res chose to trade Vucevic and he made them pay in their last meeting with 12 points and 19 rebounds in a 98-84 win Philly on February 26th. I expect the same from him this week, but I do look for the 76ers to play with more anger and desire after a rough week.

Prediction: Sixers 96 – Orlando 91

This week is going to continue to add to the 76res pain as they’re playing three playoff teams then finishing against one of the worst in the conference. While I do think the 76ers will be able to pull out a victory over Orlando, I wouldn’t put it past them to lose either. This week is going to come down to shooting for the 76ers. If they shoot well and Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner play as well as they can, the 76ers could easily wind up 3-1 this week, with absolutely no chance of beating the Miami Heat. The big issue is that it’s a lot of “ifs” for the team. What they need to do is hope that someone told Doug Collins that Arnett Moultrie needs to play and play big minutes, Lavoy Allen needs to go back to holding towels, and Nick Young (if he’s healthy) is to stay as a 6th man off the bench because he screws up momentum and consistency from Turner. Again, these are a lot of “ifs”.

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Tim Sullivan

Born and raised in Fishtown. Bleeds Philly sports. You can follow him on Twitter @IrishTim74.