The Philadelphia 76ers needed a perfect week or two to get back on their feet. Normally, Sixers fans like myself would be encouraged to have a week where they just faced the New Jersey Nets and Toronto Raptors. Yet wins against anyone, even inferior teams, haven't been coming easy for the Sixers lately.
However, Philadelphia looked like the Sixers of old by blowing out the Nets and Raptors on April 10 and April 11. Yet now they have to return home and blow out - or at least beat - the Nets once more on April 13 to keep the momentum going.
Capping off a 3-0 week is just what the Sixers need to start erasing the last few ugly weeks. Being perfect against the Nets and Raptors may not mean much in the big picture - especially since the Boston Celtics are still sitting comfortably in first place anyway. Yet these wins are helping Philadelphia to keep pace and stay in the playoff picture, which is better than the alternative.
The Sixers now have such a small margin for error that they can't get tripped up in any way. Therefore, now that they are somewhat used to winning again, they can't let an upset loss to the Nets get them in the habit of losing again.
New Jersey shouldn't be able to do that on paper, given how it got blown out by Philadelphia at home on April 10. However, the Nets have had good luck at the Wells Fargo Center before, having knocked off the then first-place Sixers at the height of their power on Jan. 25. It took overtime and a dominant Deron Williams performance to do it, yet the Nets showed they are capable of being pests every once in a while.
This is no time for the Sixers to deal with pests, especially with games against the Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers and the Milwaukee Bucks still on the schedule. The last few wins gave them a little bit of a newfound cushion for a playoff spot, but there is no sense resting on their laurels. Philadelphia had been doing that for weeks already, which helped get it into this mess to begin with.
The Sixers soared in the beginning of the year by beating the teams they were supposed to over and over. Doing it at the end of the year would make for nice symmetry, especially with things much more nerve wracking now. As such, just two straight wins over inferior opponents won't be enough, as Philadelphia will need a few more to feel safe again.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and 76ers fan.
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