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The Curious Case of the Philadelphia 76ers

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The 76ers season has been a roller coaster thus far. I try to figure out the reason for the inconsistencies.

Seriously...What is going on with the 76ers this year?  So far this season the Sixers are putting their fans on an emotional roller coaster.  They play a nearly flawless week, then drop several winnable games to bad teams.  This was no more prevalent then it has been the last two weeks.

They played a hard fought game against the Orlando Magic, only to foolishly throw it away in the final seconds, (two four point plays?!?!)  The next day in Charlotte they played uninspired basketball en route to a three point loss.  They followed up that game with a win against a very good Utah Jazz team, and a win against the sloppy Phoenix Suns.  Last night they matched their longest winning streak of the year at three, with a win against the Toronto Raptors.  This brings up a few questions.


Do we blame the inconsistencies thus far this year on inexperience?   


I think so.  The 76ers seem to be stuck in limbo.  Not good enough to win a championship, and not bad enough to throw a few more ping-pong balls into the lottery come May.  As we have already established, fans are torn on whether or not the Sixers should remain competitive, or trade for draft picks and rebuild.  This season has given fans on both sides of the argument fits.

Whenever they seem to be gelling as a team, they drop an easy game.  On the contrary, other nights they look like a team capable of challenging in the Eastern Conference this year.  To me this Sixers season is like a marathon game of Chutes and Ladders.  Just when you think they've turned a corner, they slide back to mediocrity.  And when fans suddenly get happy with the possibility of a high draft pick, they hit a ladder, and move back into the playoff race.

This season is becoming as frustrating as the popular board game.  On a side note, this game was responsible for what is now referred to in my family circle as "The Incident".  This occurred when I was a small child, and may or may not have ended with stitches.  Like I said...frustrating.

The good news is, they are improving.  In the beginning of the season, the Sixers were losing every close game.  Now, besides the infamous "4 Point Play," they are pulling out those games.  The young players are getting more and more comfortable in their roles.  Speaking of young players, welcome to the 2010-2011 season Marreese Speights!


Are the Sixers playing over their heads against good competition?


It is true; the 76ers seem ready to play against the elite teams of the NBA.  I would not say they are playing over their heads because I believe they have a good amount of talent.  I would, however, say that they do seem to have more energy when paired against a Larry O'Brien Trophy contender.


Are teams playing poorly against the 76ers? 


Watching Monday's game I was shocked at how sloppy the Suns played.  I've noticed this trend a few times this year.  I always assumed it was due to the Sixers' stellar defense, however I am not so sure anymore.

It may have something to do with the Sixers record at home.  They currently have a 14-7 record inside the confines of the Wells Fargo Center.  It is my experience that teams tend to play worse in cities with lots of distractions, which brings me to my final question.


Is Philadelphia that fun? 


I mean I have a ton of pride in this city, but it's not known for being a wild party town.  Just last week Glenn Beck was quoted saying, "Philadelphia Sucks".  Apparently they are doing something right.  Whether it is the "amazing nightlife," or the half empty arena, teams are walking into the Wells Fargo Center not ready to play.

As we move forward this year, I am not sure which Sixers team will show up...The Sixers or the Sixain'ts. My college physics professor taught me about something known as the "Chaos Theory".  This is a study where seemingly random events are actually predictable from simple deterministic equations.  Does that mean there is a way for me to somehow change the course of the season?  I am going to go throw a snowball at the Wells Fargo Center.  Maybe that will bring about a change of events that allow the Sixers to win their fourth in a row tomorrow night against Memphis.

No matter what the reason, the Sixers continue to baffle me night in and night out.  As painful as it sounds, I am actually enjoying it.  Call me crazy, but I like watching a team that has a chance to win every night.  Whatever the circumstances may be the Sixers are managing to keep all their fans on the edge of their seats.  Hopefully the 76ers find some consistency either positively or negatively instead of being stuck in mediocrity.