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Count Them Out, Please

Oddsmakers, pundits, writers, fans, coaches and players, I implore you to please, please think the Sixers are dead in the water without Thad Young. Take a look at the stats, take a look at the roster and come to the reasonable conclusion that they are a team to be taken lightly, a team to be overlooked, a team you'd love to see in the first round of the playoffs.

Since their Christmas road trip, the Sixers have played 17 games as underdogs (I can't find historic point spread data, so this is an estimated guess on my part). Here's the list and the result of each game:

  1. vs. Houston - W 104-96
  2. @ Atlanta - W 109-94
  3. vs. Portland - W 100-79
  4. vs. San Antonio - W 109-87
  5. vs. Dallas - L 93-95
  6. @ New Orleans - L 86-101
  7. @ Houston - W 95-93
  8. vs. Boston - L 99-100
  9. vs. Phoenix - W 108-91
  10. vs. Denver - L 89-101
  11. @ Miami - L 91-97
  12. vs. Orlando - L 100-106
  13. vs. New Orleans - L 91-98
  14. @ LAL - W 94-93
  15. @ Phoenix - L 116-126
  16. @ Portland - W 114-108
  17. vs. Atlanta - W 98-85
That's a 9-8 record in 17 games they should've lost. 17 games everyone said they were going to lose. Of those 8 losses, two came on buzzer beaters, they held fourth quarter leads in two more. Simply put, this Sixers team plays better, much better, when they have something to prove.

There's probably no statistical reason for this. I'm not sure how you quantify things like backbone and heart, other than the list above. How does a team perform in games they are supposed to lose. The answer, is pretty damned well. I guess we can coin this the backbone metric, or adjusted heart ratio. Whatever it is, the Sixers have it in spades.

So as I look at the final 9 games on their schedule, I can either lament the loss of Thad Young and hope the Sixers limp to a 3-6 finish, or I can take a look at how this team has performed in games where no one gave them a shot and apply their adjusted heart ratio to the schedule. I'm going to choose the latter and run with it. There should be no letdown games, there should be no coasting to the finish. There should only be a team on a mission, bound and determined to prove everyone wrong on a nightly basis.

Don't get me wrong, they need Thad back if they want any chance of getting out of the first round. Rising above the odds for one game is an entirely different matter than sustaining it over 7 against the same team. But for now, for this nine-game stretch, I'm expecting the under-manned Sixers to utilize their backbone metric advantage and finish strong.

Speaking of backbone, check out this article about the Pistons' locker room after their most-recent loss.
by Brian on Apr 1 2009
Tags: Basketball | Playoffs | Sixers | Thaddeus Young |