Somewhere between the Miami Heat and the bottom of the NBA futures lie a number of Eastern Conference contenders capable of not only qualifying for, but making an impact in the playoffs. This Friday, two of them – the Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers – will collide, each desperate for validation that their time to compete with the league’s top teams has finally arrived.
As 40-win threats since preseason, the Sixers and Pacers have done everything that’s been asked of them so far this year. Now as they navigate through a long 2012-13 campaign they’ve shown signs of actually living up to said NBA odds.
While the Indiana tandem of David West and Paul George continues to keep the Pacers relevant, it’s a youth movement in Philly that’s taking the Sixers to the next level. Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner aren’t new to Philadelphia, but they’ve thrived in their first years without defined veteran leaders to stand back of.
Might this be the type of year where a young, dangerous team like the 76ers catches a favorite off-guard in the first round of the playoffs? Could West and the Pacers rally for a home court berth before the end of the season? The NBA betting community is ready to find out.