NBA AM: Frustrating Season in Philadelphia
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Sixers’ Young Frustrated By Playoff-less Campaign
Entering the season, the Philadelphia 76ers were thought to be a team who could make some noise in the Eastern Conference. The belief was fueled by the acquisition of former All-Star center Andrew Bynum and the team’s performance during last year’s playoffs, where the club finished just one win away from a Conference Finals trip.
But things took a turn for the worst in 2013 as the Sixers never received any contribution from Bynum and were forced to watch traded former players Andre Iguodala and Nikola Vucevic thrive in Denver and Orlando, respectively.
The Sixers (34-48) finished the campaign ninth in the conference and missed the playoffs for just the second time in the last six seasons. In the aftermath, head coach Doug Collins opted to resign and take a consultant role with the franchise and the club has begun preparing for the summer, where they’re also expected to re-sign Bynum in free agency.
Forward Thaddeus Young set career-highs in points (14.8), rebounds (7.5), steals (1.8) and assists (1.6) this season but despite the individual success the veteran is frustrated by the lack of a playoff berth from a roster with so much promise.
“It’s very hard,” Young told HOOPSWORLD on missing the playoffs this season. “For me, it’s super hard because I’ve been in the playoffs in four out of the six seasons I’ve been in the league. You kind of get used to those types of things. It’s just an unfortunate situation that we have to take and go with it right now. Hopefully we’ll be back in [the playoffs] next year.”
While Young is admittedly frustrated with how the season trended, the forward did lend out praise to his teammates who he says never packed their bags to the final whistle.
“We maintained our composure throughout the course of this rough season,” Young said. “It’s been rugged, it’s been one of those unfortunate situations but we maintained our composure and kept our poise. We didn’t let [the struggles] get on top of us. We always went out there and played hard and tried to win games.”
The Sixers will enter the offseason with a plethora of questions to address. The team’s first priority will be finding a replacement for Collins on the sidelines. Team officials said the search will be broad and thorough.
Another area to address will be the future of Bynum and his troublesome knees. The team has $42 million in guaranteed salaries on the book for next season with Bynum, Nick Young, Dorell Wright, Damien Wilkins and Royal Ivey all entering unrestricted free agency.
Boston Presents Big Challenge For New York To Overcome
Here’s what we know: New York Knicks basketball is back. After a six year drought, the team has reached the playoffs for three consecutive seasons and have improved their win percentage in each outing. But the playoffs, this season, have come built in with added pressure and a shift of roles. In the club’s last two trips to the playoffs, they were unheralded underdogs in the first round. The club was swept by the Boston Celtics in 2011 and eliminated in five games by the Miami HEAT in 2012.
This season, the Knicks clinched the second seed in the Eastern Conference and will face the declining Celtics in the opening round. On paper the Knicks should emerge victorious, but the Celtics, led by Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, have proved to be one of the toughest playoff outs in the league over the past few seasons.
How the Knicks handle Boston will go a long way in determining how the team will fare in a potential match-up with the HEAT in the Conference Finals. All great teams must overcome adversity in order to be considered a great unit. The Celtics will present the ultimate test, not in terms of talent or match-ups, but in character.
Boston is a team, despite their aging leadership, that is extremely disciplined, doesn’t beat themselves or quit and is battle tested in the playoffs.
The Knicks may get a lineup boost by the return of Amar’e Stoudemire sometime during the playoffs, but head coach Mike Woodson believes the former All-Star will miss the first-round tilt versus Boston.
“I think he’s going to be out,” Woodson told Ian Begley of ESPN New York. “That’s my gut.”
Stoudemire, who underwent surgery on his knee in March, put more of a positive spin n his current injury situation and possible return to action.
“I’m doing everything I can to get back out there and be extremely strong and healthy so, hopefully, I’ll be out there soon,” Stoudemire said.
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