In the month of October we all had the expectation that the Flyers were going to play well and we would probably be watching playoff hockey by seasons end. To this point the Flyers have been a little bit of a surprise. Not surprised that they are good, but surprised with how good they have played. Their record of 35-13-5 gets them 1st place in the Eastern Conference and has caused quite a buzz about the possibility of drinking from Lord Stanley's Cup when the weather gets warm.
Also in the month of October we all had the expectation that the Sixers would be on the outside looking in come playoff time. We figured maybe an 8th seed and a first round exit. If I had told you in October that the Sixers would be one of the surprise teams in the NBA this year, you would think I was crazy. Here in February where Blake Griffin dominates the top ten plays on ESPN and everyone is wondering if Melo will be Melo Yellow in a Lakers uniform soon; the Sixers have quietly been winning and setting themselves up for a possible playoff run.
In the beginning of the season they started as expected and maybe even worse at 3-13. Since then a steady Doug Collins and all around team play has brought their record to 24-27, which is good enough for 3rd place in the Atlantic. In Tuesday nights win against the Hawks the Sixers went into halftime with a 65-33 lead; but watching them collapse from a 13 point fourth quarter lead when they played the Hawks on December 3rd, as well as a January 28th collapse after leading by 21 in the third at home against Memphis; they easily could have relapsed and let another one slip away. Instead they came out in the third quarter and played like they were down. In the end last nights 117-83 win became the cliche "statement game". It was a statement that the Sixers have learned not to let up; not to take it easy and coast to the end of the game. A very valuable lesson for any sport.
I am not saying that the Sixers will play to the level of Miami or Boston. I do not have championship hopes for this team...this season. What I do see is a great coach with a talented young team. The potential is there for them to match their old school uniforms and become as good as the teams that used to wear them. The future is bright, but at least for this season we can watch the "other team" to carry us through to spring training and hopefully beyond. It's a great time to be a Philly sports fan.