The Sixers are back in the playoffs for the second consecutive year.  Which, if you’ve seen this team play basketball, probably at times feels a little weird.  But what you need to remember is that this the NBA, and basically everybody makes the playoffs.

The excitement at this point, when everybody is resting their best players, is in the order in which everyone will enter the playoffs.  It’s like boarding the shuttle that’s evacuating a dying earth!  Until recently, the Heat and Bulls were slap fighting in the cockpit, while the Pacers, Celtics, Hawks, and somebody else [EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s the Magic dude, come on, that took me like two seconds to look up] were clogging the middle section, and the Sixers and Knicks were both trying to crawl in the same side window.  The Bucks accidentally opened an emergency exit and fell 90 feet to the ground.

Meanwhile, the Charlotte Bobcats hide under their makeshift apocalypse shelter and wait for death…

But it seems, after a series of enthusiastic jockeying, the Eastern Conference seeds have arranged themselves, saving you all from my very well made chart explaining just how many scenarios could have presented themselves:

The Sixers are, in fact, the eighth seed, meaning they will be forced to take on the top team in the conference, as sort of a gift to the top team.  Fortunately, this year, that team is not the Miami Heat.  Unfortunately, that is because the Heat are not the best team.  That would be the Chicago Bulls, a team that won so many games that they have started canceling practices.  It is difficult to believe they will treat tonight’s contest with the Pacers as anything other than a trick shot competition.

But hey, as sports teach us, anything can happen.  For instance, did you know the Sixers won a game against the Heat in the first round of last year’s playoffs?  Sadly, they dropped the pivotal first three and last one and were systematically eliminated.

However!  This is a team that has existed all year long by utilizing everybody on the floor, and not losing games that seemed like predictable wins.  If anyone is geared for a romanticized deep playoff run to serve as fodder for future local documentarians, it’s this group.  However, Doug Collins has left them with a series of issues.

For starters, the starters.  Who are they?  The leading scorer, Lou Williams, is often coming off the bench.  Nobody knows why Collins doesn’t return Evan Turner’s calls, but he doesn’t.  And by “calls” I don’t mean “phone calls,” I mean, “calls from the bench, pleading ‘please put me in the basketball game. I really want to play.'”  But I think we all know from our intramural co-ed junior high basketball days that just because you’re willing to cry and sacrifice all your dignity, you are not guaranteed any playing time.

And lastly, the big shooter issue.  This one has haunted the Sixers all year.  While we sit at our computers and type out hate-filled diatribes on why Lebron James sucks and is a fancy pants douche, printing them out, and burning them, and crying, it would be nice to have a superstar closer on our team, and not for merchandising purposes.  We can glow all we want over the full-team angle, but in truth, the Sixers could really benefit from having “The Guy” to give the ball to for the last minute shot.  That guy has been Lou Williams, but his decision-making skills aren’t always admirable, both on the court and during brainstorming sessions for music videos.

But when are there a lot of NBA playoff games, especially in the first round.  What are the odds that many of them will come down to a dramatic last second shot?

This isn’t meant to detract from the success of the Sixers, despite all words prior to these doing exactly that.  The Sixers are in the post season!  They’ve had an exciting year!  Remember that 20-9 start?  Mmm?  Remember leading the Atlantic Division?  Nobody saw that coming.  And how about that Sixers CEO Adam Aron and his tweets that indicate he’s just like us?

There’s no reason not to be optimistic, unless you’re somebody who allows problems, analysis, and history affect your opinions.  The best way to enter the 2012 Sixers NBA Playoffs Run is to cover your eyes and scream while barreling forward.  Which, if these old basketball photos of me on my junior high team are any indication, is exactly how basketball is played.  What luck.