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The Race Is On

It's going to be a sprint to the finish for three Eastern Conference teams. Two games in the loss column separates the Heat, Sixers and Pistons from the coveted #5 seed. After the jump, we'll take a look at the remaining schedules for each team, and try to piece together what needs to happen for the Sixers to beat out Miami and Detroit.
We'll start with the Sixers. This is taken directly from my first half review of the team, and I think it probably still holds water. I had the Sixers finishing 10-8 from this point, which would give them a final record of 43-39.

I think this was a pretty fair assessment of the remainder of their schedule. Looking ahead now, I can pinpoint a few games that I think could swing in the Sixers' favor, namely the game at Phoenix and the game coming back from the road trip at home vs. Minnesota. If they could somehow win those two, and keep all the predicted wins above, that would get them to 45-37. Even under those circumstances, though, the Sixers would probably need some help. You also have to factor in the much improved play of the Bobcats. That game in Charlotte is far from a sure thing.

Now, let's take a look at Detroit's remaining schedule. I just used pure winning percentage to predict the outcome of the games (If Detroit has a higher winning percentage, I predicted a win. Lower, I predicted a loss).

Finally, let's take a look at Miami's remaining schedule, using the same predictors as Detroit.

As you can see, Miami has a pretty cake remaining schedule. If they simply take care of the lesser teams, it would be nearly impossible for the Sixers to catch them. They do have 10 remaining road games (they're only 12-19 on the road), and four back-to-backs, which could easily factor in.

Still, I think the bottom line to take away from these schedules is that the Sixers are either going to have to do something extraordinary (like catch fire and string together 5 or 6 straight wins), or they're going to need some help.

There are 4 key head-to-head matchups mixed in there. The Sixers play @ Detroit, then host the Pistons. The Heat and Pistons play a home-and-home as well. Here are some by the numbers stats to help make things a little more clear.

Philadelphia Remaining Games
  • 11 Road
  • 7 Home
  • 9 vs. +.500 teams
  • 9 vs. -.500 teams
  • 5 back-to-backs
Detroit Remaining Games
  • 10 Road
  • 7 Home
  • 8 vs. +.500 teams
  • 9 vs. -.500 teams
  • 5 back-to-backs
Miami Remaining Games
  • 10 Road
  • 6 Home
  • 8 vs. +.500 teams
  • 8 vs. -.500 teams
  • 4 back-to-backs
So, those are the numbers, what do you guys think? Any shot at the number 5 seed? A lock for #6? Falling to #8? Personally, I think it's probably going to be #6 and a date with the Magic (who will overtake Boston).
by Brian on Mar 16 2009
Tags: Basketball | Heat | Pistons | Playoffs | Sixers |