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Wisconsin Death Trip: Playoff-Bound Sixers Look for Vengeance in Milwaukee

Apr 4, 2011, 4:39 PM EDT

Perhaps the first truly surprising loss of the Sixers’ 2011 calendar
year—not just in who they lost to, but in the incredible magnitude of
the throttling—was their blowout loss three weeks ago to the Milwaukee
Bucks. Blame it on a lack of energy and focus after playing four games
in six days, but the boys were absolutely punked by a scrappy Bucks
squad looking to make a late push for the post-season. It was a
worrisome performance, to say the least, but aside from a late-game
meltdown in Utah the next night and a game-long no-show against the
Kings last Sunday, the team has gotten easily back on track, and as of
last night’s beatdown of the Nets, are post-season bound for the third
time in four seasons.

Meanwhile, the Bucks have gone the other way with their season,
losing 7 of their last 11 after the victory against Philadelphia.

Now, with a 30-45 record that sees them four games behind even
the recently-woeful Pacers for the eighth seed in the Eastern
Conference, Milwaukee is all but eliminated from post-season
contention—a disappointing year of basketball for a team who was the #5
seed in the East playoffs last year, and added pieces in the off-season
that they thought might allow them to be competitive with the
conference’s big guns.

No matter, though—this is a Philly sports blog, and in
Philadelphia, the news is good. With their 40-36 record, the team is but
two wins away from officially securing the first winning record the
franchise has seen since ’04-’05—a modest achievement to be certain, but
one not too many of us were optimistic about reaching in October and
November. The Sixers seem a fairy decent bet to be the #6 seed this year
in the post-season, but with the Knicks having won two in a row
themselves and with another game against Philly before all is said and
done, the Sixers need to stay on their game to keep New York from
closing the 2.5-game gap behind them. (Not that it really matters all
that much, though—the Celtics and Heat toggle the two and three seeds
seemingly every night, and our chances aren’t great against either
anyway.)

8:30 tip-off from the Bradley Center. “Now, the fun starts,” said
Elton Brand of securing his trip to the post-season for the first time
as a Sixer, and just the second time in his 12-year NBA career. “Let’s
see how good we can be.” Yes let’s, EB.