Sure, the Miami Heat are still the odds-on favorite to win the East and the NBA championship, but with the addition of Bynum, the 76ers have to be mentioned as a team that could pose a serious threat to the defending champions in the playoffs.
For one, the Sixers showed a lot of promise in the 2012 playoffs.
Coming in as the eighth seed, the Sixers pulled off a shocking upset of the No. 1 seed Chicago Bulls. Thanks to a tireless defense and gritty style, the Sixers won a battle of attrition over the Derrick Rose-less Bulls and finished the series off in six games.
While most wrote off that performance due to Rose’s injury, the Sixers showed they had the type of young core that could morph into a playoff team. The scrappy Sixers took the veteran Celtics to seven games in a series that was marked with physicality and hustle on the defensive side of the floor.
As they were, the Sixers at least looked the part of a scrappy lower-seed team that you wouldn’t want your favorite team playing in the opening round. With Bynum, they are a legitimate threat.
For all of the defense and physical play, it was Philadelphia’s lack of offensive punch that failed them down the stretch in their battles with the Celtics.
Without a clear-cut offensive identity, the offense went stagnant at the wrong times for the Sixers and they had to rely too heavily on getting stops. With Bynum on the roster, things should really open up offensively.
When it comes to scoring, Bynum knows how to get the job done. In his best season to date, Bynum was second among centers in points per game last season, averaging 18.7. Power forward Elton Brand and center Spencer Hawes combined to average 20.6 points per game last season.
With a much better scoring punch on the inside, Philadelphia’s wealth of young, promising and athletic wing players should have much more opportunity to find their shots and improve their numbers.
The Sixers playoff run in 2012 was impressive, in 2013 they will get the chance to show that it wasn’t an anomaly. The Celtics, Bulls and Heat should all remain dangerous teams; but with the addition of Bynum to an already good core of players, the 76ers have solidified themselves as a legitimate threat in the East.
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