By Joseph Santoliquito

The doubters surface here and there. It’s Philadelphia. It’s in the collective sports fan’s DNA in this city to be perpetually pessimistic. Even after the 76ers rolled over the Miami Heat in five games, some still question whether or not this team can win it all.

Since Dec. 30, 2017, the Sixers are 41-12, including their five-game playoff victory over the Heat. The Heat aren’t exactly world beaters, but an interesting note here says the Sixers were the fresher team and probably will be against whomever they face next.

The Sixers outscored the Heat, 308-230, in the second half of the five playoff games. They held Miami to 20 points or less in four of the 10 second-half quarters played.

What does that indicate?

One, the Sixers were the younger, more vibrant team; and secondly, they get stronger as the game progresses.

Take a look at the NBA landscape in the Eastern Conference. Perennial powerhouse LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers are leaking oil. So is Boston, which could be pushed to a Game 7 against Milwaukee, and possibly even lose that series. Toronto is having a tough time with Washington, which was to be expected, considering the Wizards have John Wall back and healthy.

Out West, defending champ Golden State and Houston appear on a collision course. Both also appear to be beatable, since the Sixers went 1-1 against Houston during the regular season and though they were winless against Golden State, this is a far different team than the one the Warriors saw twice in the span of a week back in November.

The Sixers are resting now, while in the East, Toronto, Washington, Milwaukee, Boston, Cleveland and Indiana continue to bleed each other. In the West, Golden State faces an interesting challenge in the suddenly surging New Orleans Pelicans. Houston, however, remains a team to fear.

But crazy scenarios can fall into place, like Aaron Rodgers getting hurt, Carson Wentz blowing out his knee, the Atlanta Falcons upsetting the Los Angeles Rams on the road, Tom Brady throwing for a Super Bowl record 505 yards—and losing, the New England Patriots racking up a Super Bowl record 613 yards of total offense—and losing, Nick Foles catching a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl and Foles being named Super Bowl MVP.

Hey, it’s the Blessing of the Birds, crazy scenarios happen all of the time in Philadelphia now.

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