The 76ers have a tough road to hoe over the next 12 days. Starting Wednesday at the Pacers, the Sixers play a brutal stretch of games against the NBA’s Elite. Because it wasn’t enough to have 7 games in 12 days, 4 come against teams with better records than the Atlantic Division leaders and 2 are face-offs against revenge minded division rivals. In order of appearance (Home games in bold), they’ll take on the Pacers, Heat, Bulls, Bobcats, Knicks, C’s and Spurs.
Spencer Hawes’ much anticipated return to the line-up should help stop the scoring barrage the Sixers have allowed to opposing point guards this season by limiting their ability to drive at will to the paint. Philly faces LBJ, D. Wade, Derrick Rose, Rondo, and Tony Parker during this stretch and will need to minimize their contributions if they hope to have any success. Hawes will play no more than 5 minute stretches according to the team and won’t play back to backs, but it will be nice to see the 23 year old back in action for a team that went 12-2 this season during his starts.
The 76ers have a new life of late due to new starter Evan Turner’s aggressive play. The Sixers are a different team with the ball in ET’s hands. He’s penetrating, finding open shots, creating more movement in the half court and crashing the boards like the Sixers envisioned he would when they selected him #2 overall in 2010. If his great play continues and Hawes contributes consistently, the Sixers could go 4-3 over this stretch and maintain their lead over the Celtics in the division.
They won’t best the Heat, Bulls or embarrased C’s but they can handle the Pacers size with Hawes, steal one from the Spurs, and easily defeat the D-League All-Stars and crumbling Knicks.