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Sixers Face Undermanned Magic in Game of Ostensible Playoff Implications

Apr 16, 2012, 5:43 PM EDT

The Philadelphia 76ers get a should-be-gimme against an Orlando Magic squad missing most of their good players. Is it a trap?

Is this where I point out that if the Sixers had managed to hold court
against the Nets on Friday night, we’d only be 2.5 games back of the
Magic, with a slightly real chance of catching them for the sixth seed
before season’s end, with franchise center Dwight Howard (and about half
their other decent-ish players) out injured, likely for the remainder
of the regular season? Probably, but would it really matter anyway? They
did lose to the Nets, and with the Knicks losing to the visiting
Heat on Sunday afternoon, they’re still stuck in that seventh seed,
ticketed for a first-round immolation at the hands of the mercilessly
cruel Miami Heat. The end of the season can’t come fast enough.

Ideally, we’d want to get to the sixth seed, but even with the Magic
missing Howard (as well as forwards Hedo Turkoglu, Ryan Anderson and
Glen “Big Baby” Davis), there’s no assuring that they’ll rack up enough
losses to give the Sixers a fighting chance—and even if they do, how
confident are you feeling in this team’s ability to win five or six of
their last seven games? More realistic a goal would be allowing the
Knicks to eclipse them for the seventh seed and taking their chances
against the Bulls in the 1/8 matchup—though after coming up short
against the Heat on Sunday, New York might also be racing to stay south
of the seven seed. There is no joy in this.

At the very least, tonight will be an interesting test for the Sixers as
they sport a revamped starting lineup—one with Elton Brand starting at
the five and Thaddeus Young slotting into the four, Thad’s first time
being on the court for opening tip thusfar this season. Thad and Elton
have historically posted good +/- numbers when paired in the frontcourt
together, though they’ve rarely been featured for more than
four-or-five-minute stretches at a time, as going with them as bigs
leaves the Sixers critically undersized. This shouldn’t be a huge
problem against the Howard-less Magic, however, so it’ll be interesting
to see if Collins’ last-minute experiment ends up having any impact on
the notoriously slow-starting Sixers.

7:00 tip from the Amway Center. “No Howard, no Turkoglu and no Glen
Davis,” tweets Inquirer reporter John Mitchell. “How can the Sixers not
win this game?” Better question: Who has two thumbs and is actively
dreading finding out the answer to that question? THIIIIIIIS