Jan 28, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay (22) is defended by Philadelphia 76ers guard Evan Turner (12) during the first quarter at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers' Early Playoff Race

We’re in February. I know this. It’s kinda early for this but with Rajon Rondo’s injury and the Raptors’ acquisition of Rudy Gay, things could really shape up for a late season seeding.

I get it, Sixers are without Bynum and the idea is that once he returns the Sixers will make the playoffs. I’m just not convinced yet. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this already but Bynum hasn’t played in a long time. He has a history of problems. If the Sixers continue to slump (they haven’t won two in a row since they won 3 in late November, only with 9 wins since the start of December), then Bynum won’t be able to help the team.

Why not?

Do we expect him to come in playing 35+ minutes a game? Well, we shouldn’t. He’s going to have his minutes monitored. 20 minutes for a week or two. If he does come back right after the All-Star break, those two weeks would pretty much take up the rest of February. Now we’re in March. 17 games in 31 days. There will be back to backs. Can Bynum’s body handle all of that? We can’t be sure and I have serious doubts. Let’s say the Sixers go .500 from now until Bynum returns. Will that be enough to have Bynum carry the team to the playoffs?

Now for the Celtics. They lost Rajon Rondo for the rest of the season. They have a 3 game lead over the Sixers for 8th place. Celtics are certainly not going to fold. Kevin Garnett won’t allow that. Paul Pierce won’t allow that. Glen Rivers won’t allow that. As Marc Zumoff has said, “there’s only one Doc in this city.” whenever the Celtics come to town. And so, only Dr. J gets the “Doc” nickname from me. Anyway, the Celtics could pull for a trade. Maybe they don’t. In the end, they still have enough talent to make the playoffs considering the Sixers, Pistons, and Raptors are behind them.

Speaking of the Raptors, they got themselves Rudy Gay. For me, Rudy Gay isn’t as good as folks would make him to be. He can score. And the Raptors need that. I happen to believe that Gay can spark the Raptors to a playoff push. They are 6.5 games behind the Celtics. Can they make that push? Or is Boston too far and/or the Sixers just going to be too much when Bynum joins?

The Pistons are around too and they have actually been playing .500 for the past oh say 12 games. Combine with the Sixers’ slump, it’s only a matter of time before the Pistons actually pass the Sixers. And of course the Raptors are right there.

So now we have 4 teams looking for that one spot. Bucks are in 7th but unless something major happens, I doubt they fall any lower. So which team will grab that 8th seed, and a most likely meeting with the Heat?

If the Bynum thing works out, it’s Sixers. Again, Sixers need to get to .500 or as close to it by the time Bynum gets back. I think Celtics will hold that 8th spot to the break. I also think in March you’ll see the Pistons fade and the Raptors barely hanging on. It’ll probably come down to the Sixers and Celtics for that last spot.

I would like to believe the Sixers and Bynum will do the right things. But I doubt it.

Sensors, who do you think will get the 8th seed? Do you have your 8 teams laid out for the East? Maybe things are too early (It’s in the title; I’m aware it’s an early take. Things can change). Hit the comments and let me know!

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Tags: Boston Celtics Detroit Pistons Philadelphia 76ers Toronto Raptors

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