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A Race For Seeding?

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After an atrocious first couple months of their NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers have rebounded well and are playing some of the hottest ball in the league. Currently, the Sixers are the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. If the playoffs started today, the Sixers would play the Chicago Bulls in the first round. However, with 16 games to play both the six (0.5 games behind) and even the five (4 games behind) seed seem to be obtainable goals for the Sixers.

As we all know the teams above the Sixers right now are the New York Knicks and the Atlanta Hawks. Today, I wanted to take a look at each teams remaining schedule and schedule strength to see how it looks for our Sixers between now and the end of the season.

A note on my numbers: As the Sixers have played better and better ball each month, I did not look at records from the beginning of the season to calculate these numbers. The winning percentages used for these numbers are for games played from January 1, 2011 through February 27, 2011 (I haven't gotten the games updated since the 27th, sorry)

Team Performance January 1, 2011 through February 27th, 2011



Team

Win Pct

HOME Win Pct

Away Win Pct

Philadelphia

.654

.786

.500

New York

.480

.615

.333

Atlanta

.625

.556

.667



Team Remaining Schedule

Team

Home Games

Away Games

SOS

Philadelphia

8

9

.495

New York

10

8

.445

Atlanta

11

6

.468



SOS Breakdown (Home/Away)

Team

SOS (Home)

SOS (Away)

Philadelphia

.349

.626

New York

.327

.592

Atlanta

.453

.495



So, let's get the obvious out of the way first. The Sixers have played better ball overall than either the Knicks or Hawks since January 1, though the Hawks are better on the road (and better than they are at home, which might just be a function of their schedule or might just be Atlanta's lack of fans). There's a lot to probably extract from a detailed look at all this, but I want to focus on the thing that was most pronounced to me when I started looking at these numbers; the Sixers road schedule SOS of .626.

Part of that really high road strength of schedule is away games against Boston, Chicago and Miami in the next seventeen. Each team has a win percentage at home of at least .800 since January 1, and each team is still playing for seeding, and might be doing so all the way to the end of the season so resting players might not be something the Sixers get to take advantage of. However, those three teams alone do not account for the .626 road strength of schedule.

There are only two teams left on the Sixers road schedule that have played under .500 ball at home since January 1. Utah (.462) and Sacramento (.273) are those two teams. What about the Clippers you ask? Well the Clippers have played .750 ball at the Staples Center since the calendar flipped from 2010 to 2011.

I'm not going to delve deeper into a lot of this (but will in the comments if people have specific questions), but what I think is that the Sixers can (and will) catch the Knicks but I believe the Hawks (even with their questionable play recently) are beyond the Sixers reach due to the ease of their schedule as the season winds down. The Sixers do have one game (at home) against each of these teams, but I don't think that alone will be enough to help them catch the Hawks.

And in the putting my money where my mouth is:

Sixers - 10-6
Knicks - 9-8
Hawks - 8-8


As always when I do this, while my numbers and ability to extract them from data is good, I realize my analysis needs work. Comments are welcome and any questions regarding how I got the numbers (or numbers you want to see) are invited.
by GoSixers on Mar 14 2011
Tags: Basketball | GoSixers | Sixers |