ESPN hoops stats guru John Hollinger focuses on teams who he believes have a chance to make the top four in the league (Boston, Cleveland, Orlando, Lakers), into a top five.
He names five teams he believes could turn the corner in the second half, and be a challenge to the "title contenders."
Coming in at number 5, with a bullet, your Philadelphia 76ers. Here's a bit of his logic:
I suppose I could have put New Orleans or Phoenix here, but I get the impression that we've seen about all they can do, and that's not enough to scare anyone in the top four.
Of the remaining teams, it seems to me this is the one that has the best chance of surprising us and making a huge push in the second half. With apologies to my hometown Hawks, it's also the only East team that I see as a threat to the top three in that conference.
He goes on to reiterate his feelings on the lineup Philly should use when Brand comes back, basically, insert Brand at C, keep everything else the same. I don't think that's going to happen, and I think I'd rather have Sammy in the starting lineup than Willie anyway.
The four teams ahead of Philly on Hollinger's list: Utah, Houston, San Antonio, Denver.
Agree, disagree with the esteemed Mr. Hollinger? Thoughts in the comments and check back later today for the First Half Review: Bigs.