NBA Philadelphia 76ers

5 Ways Philadelphia 76ers Can Stay Relevant in 2013 Without Jeopardizing Future

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5 Ways Sixers Can Stay Relevant This Year

Howard Smith - USA Today Sports

Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie’s plan at the beginning of the season was to be historically bad. But so far, it has seemed that head coach Brett Brown, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and promising young rookie Michael Carter-Williams are not on board with that plan. So far, the Sixers are better than horrible, but not quite good at 6-8.

Hinkie continues to make little moves to try and trick people into thinking he isn’t looking to tank, including waiving Kwame Brown and adding Elliot Williams. But, it’s pretty obvious that Hinkie rather use his draft picks and rebuild rather than be a mediocre team fighting for a playoff spot in the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

Even so, Sixers fans have been treated to a pleasant surprise so far this year with six wins, a high-powered offense and a flare for the dramatics, including last night’s come-from-behind victory where Hawes took over in the fourth quarter and Turner finished the job in overtime.

Now, the usual pessimistic Sixers fan will obviously say that this team does not have enough talent to compete for the entire season, and it would make the most sense to trade their only good players and ride into tankville. But why stop the fun now? The Atlantic Division is so bad right now, and who knows what record it will take to win the division.

I’m not for tanking and I am all for making the playoffs, even if it means getting swept in the first round. If you’re on my side, I give you five ways that this current Sixers roster can stay relevant for the entire season.

Zach Slotter is a contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @zslot6, Like his Facebook page and add him on Google.

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5. Avoid the Injury Bug

Howard Smith - USA Today Sports

I don’t think there is a team that cannot afford any injuries more than the Sixers. This roster is very weak, and they went 1-3 in the four games that Carter-Williams missed with injury. The starting five is good, but if any of them go down for an extended period, this team is done.

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4. Win the Turnover Battle

Howard Smith - USA Today Sports

As a young team, turnovers are inevitable and the Sixers turn it over more than 18 times per game (28th in the NBA). But thanks to the long arms of MCW, they are seventh in the league in forcing almost 17 turnovers per game. If they can flip those numbers and win the turnover battle, it will lead to extra possessions and give the Sixers another edge.

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3. Win Within the Division

Howard Smith - USA Today Sports

As I mentioned, this division is absolutely horrible. The Toronto Raptors lead it at 6-7. The New York Knicks are 3-8 and the Brooklyn Nets are 3-9. The two favorites have dug themselves quite a hole and have given teams like the Sixers an opportunity to control their own destiny if they win the divisional games.

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2. Get to the Free Throw Line

Howard Smith - USA Today Sports

Easy points are the name of the game when it comes to turning a mediocre team into a good one. The Sixers have moved all the way up to 11th in the league with 24 free throw attempts per game mainly because of Turner’s new attacking style. But they are 26th in the league in free throw percentage and need to take more advantage of the calls they are getting if they are going to stay competitive.

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1. Defend the Three

Howard Smith - USA Today Sports

The Sixers surrendering 39.8 percent on 3-point field goals, ranking 29th in the NBA. They are last with 11.8 made and 29.6 attempted against their defense. It will be tough for this roster to score over 100 points a game all season, so they have to do a better job of not giving up threes to keep the score down.