Just stay above water - that's what Sixers coach Doug Collins preached to his young squad as they began to turn the corner but still quite hadn't arrived.

Collins' hope was that if the Sixers did not fall into an abyss then there might be a chance for them to make a push for a playoff spot over the final 50 games of the regular season.

Paramount to that goal was that the team not fall apart during its brutal eight-road trip during the annual "Disney on Ice" exodus from the Wells Fargo Center.

Sunday, the Sixers posted a 95-86 victory at the Denver Nuggets. After 30 games, they are 12-18, which isn't so bad once you consider that about a month ago they were 3-13. The Sixers are a respectable 9-5 in their last 14 games and are 2-2 on this road trip.

In other words, they have . With Collins' 50-game target in view, they are just were he hoped they would be.

There is no getting around the fact that the Sixers have played just .400 basketball this season, but again the start was dreadful.

And the one good thing about being in the NBA Eastern Conference is that "dreadful' is a relative term. The East is not as bad as it has been recently with only the top three teams being any good, but there is still enough mediocrity to allow for recovery from bad starts.

Only six teams in the East have winning records. The other nine are below .500. If the playoffs started today, the Sixers would miss out. Since the playoffs do not start today, however, it must be noted that the Sixers are just a game behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the eight seed and two games behind the Indiana Pacers for the seventh seed.

Starting tonight at Golden State, 31 of the Sixers final 52 games are against teams currently without winning records. That's the type of schedule an improved team can make a legitimate push with.