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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Worrisome Swing by the Sixers

It has to be a rarity to be a 10-point favorite at home and a 10-point underdog on the road in consecutive games and have the underdog win both games. But that’s what just happened to the Sixers in the last two games. They lost to Sacramento at home on Sunday, and followed that with a victory Monday night in Chicago.

No, I haven’t moved my weekly post on picks to Tuesday. But it would have been easier to do that than to figure out what this means about the Sixers.

The easiest answer seems to be that the Sixers are just young and immature. Lou Williams’ revelation that a portion of the team went to the Li’l Wayne concert Saturday night seems to solidify the argument. I’m not dumb enough to think NBA players are nestled in their beds by 11 PM the night before a game. But how many noon tips do they have? They were likely going to be out of sync anyway. Their body clocks are used to games that start just after 7 PM. Sucking it up for one night would have killed them?

That said, I don’t think being out late is why they lost. We’re about to watch a Final Four in which Cinderella has already been invited to the dance. If anyone wants to believe VCU is better than Kansas, be sure to mention the deal you can get them on the Brooklyn Bringing. Kansas, like a lot of heavy favorites in the tournament, thought they could just show up and win.

I think that’s what happened to the Sixers on Sunday against Sacramento. They’re a pretty young team, they were believing in themselves a little too much, and got burned.

The next night, they had been humbled and were focused against the best team in the Eastern conference.

It’s tempting to point to the win against the Bulls as evidence that the Sixers can win a playoff series against one of the top four teams in the East. With 8 games left in the season, they’re almost locked into a first round series against Orlando, a team I think they could beat.

Yet, the loss worries me more than the win encourages me.

Maybe it’s just the Philadelphian in me.

Playoff pressure is something several key guys on the team have never experienced. There’s a certain pressure to suddenly being in a tight game with a team that is supposed to be an easy win on the schedule. This team hasn’t experienced that much either. The Sixers obviously didn’t react to that pressure very well.

Hopefully, they handle playoff pressure a little better.

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