Really, I just realized that I rarely give credit to Doug Collins. Time to make up for it.
If after the impressive, exciting 90-76 W over Atlanta Sixers are 11-4 (.733), currently holding a FIVE game lead over the Knicks in the Atlantic, it's because they are a focused, committed, organized, spirited, energetic basketball team.
To say it simple, Sixers are EXTREMELY well coached.
And even philadelphians seem to love it: almost 17,000 of them came to see the latest game, that was perhaps the brightest sign of many things that already turned around.
Yesterday night Sixers simply tooked it to another level in the second half, both offensively and defensively.
Hawks were hold to 29 points after the break, 10 in the third quarter, including a buzzer beating three by another red hot former Sixer, this time Willie Green (obviously undeservedly booed, lol...).
That didn't ruin Sixers' third quarter show, with Meex connecting from behind the arc, Jrue Holiday setting his team mates nicely, Iguodala flying for thunderous dunks, and all guys playing stifling defense and running on fastbreaks for easy points. Willie's last second shot "improved" Hawks' shooting percentage to 4/17 in the period.
Playing without Hawes for the second consecutive game, Sixers dominated under the boards (51-32), taking advantage of Horford's absence, thanks to a finally decisive Elton Brand: 16 rebounds to go with three blocks. (more after the break) no comments
Boy, this one hurt.
The 104-108 OT L to Denver was the most entertaining game I've seen in a while.
Basically 53 minutes of pure delight for almost any basketball fan: make it 52 and 1/2 for Sixers (10-4, .714) fans.
It took a memorable (unbelievable? stunning? unreal?) game by Andre Miller to give the Nuggets the win
The former Sixer nearly posted a triple double, singlehandedly kept Denver in the game in regulation, scoring the last 10 points for his team, and finished knocking down the game winner with 43 seconds left in overtime (in the pic) and adding a key steal in our final possession. (Ok, that was actually more Jrue Holiday throwing the ball away, but whatever...)
Hey, I've always been a fan of Andre Miller, but, jeez, dude never, ever played like this in Philly... THREE treys ???? That is usually what he puts together in a season... I checked and he hit 4 last year in Portland, in 81 games played. WTF.
Hawes-less Sixers played a great game from tip off, even allowing a 6-26 Denver break in the second quarter. The comeback in the fourth quarter was exciting: Sixers turned a ten point deficit with nine minutes to play (72-82) into a three point lead (85-82) picking the best moment to go on a 13-0 run.
From there on, Miller took over, scoring ten straight and missing only the last shot at the buzzer: the fourth trey, honestly, would have been too much... Denver really looked like a one-man team. (more after the break) no comments
Therefore I watched on replay, same as always, one of the few games that I could have watched live... could should have done better on that one, yep.
Sixers (10-3, .769) hold a four game lead over NY (6-7) in the Atlantic after the 94-82 W over Milwaukee, that kept their record at home perfect: it's 6-0 now.
Not much to say on this game, Sixers led for more than 40 minutes and took over in the third quarter (76-62), with Hawes scoring all of his eleven points in the period, including TWO treys, and Holiday (POG, in the pic) adding nine of his season high 24.
Three point shooting (11/23, it started with 5/5) and perimeter defense, besides the "usual" balanced offense, were the keys to this game, in which Iguodala shined as well, on both ends of the floor.
Today Sixers trail Chicago by only one game for the first place in the conference. Yes, I said conference, that thing that includes three divisions, exactly....
Now it comes a fun part of the season: top seeded Sixers will play the Nuggets (8-5) on Wednesday, Atlanta (10-4) on Friday and will fly to Miami (8-4) on Saturday.
Tough matchups, uh? True. But I'm 100% sure none of these (good) teams is particularly happy to meet us, either.
Take a look at these stats I've just found, aren't they encouraging? (more after the break)
Sixers got their eight W in nine games beating Washington 90-103 to increase their lead over NY to three games (9-3, .750).
Even if it came against what is clearly one of the worst teams in the NBA, I think we shouldn't underrate this win: on the road, second night of a back-to-back home-and-home, following a blowout, seventh game in nine nights.
That's not easy in this League.
Sixers showed mental toughness, at least, in this little maturity test: the focus was there (only 7 turnovers + 85% foul shooting, finally), the defense was, too, same story for the hustle, as the 12 steals would tell you.
After a slow 1st, in which Wizards outrebounded us 16-5 (!), Sixers took control in the second quarter, taking full advantage of the ton of turnovers that Wall (7 at the break !) & co were amassing.
At halftime the 29-18 Wizards rebounding edge was more than overcome by the 21-6 points off turnovers scoring: Iguodala led everyone with 17 points, but McGee had 15 on 7/7 +9 reb + 3 blocks....
Sixers managed a 10-12 point lead throughout the third, energized by a very active Young (8), and extended the lead to 20 at the beginning of the fourth: 64-84 on a lefthanded hook by the same Thad. Game over, despite some stupid three points plays allowed in the final minutes, that reduced our lead to twelve.
Lou Williams' scoring was unbelievable, 24 points in 25 minutes, and on only 12 shots (in the pic), simply mean deadly efficiency: that was just as perfect as an offensive game you can possibly play. But we all know - Wizards fans particularly... - that Lou LOVES to play Washington and usually catches fire when he sees those jerseys. (more after the break) no comments
Or Sixers made it look easy, which would be even better.
Wizards were BURIED 120-89 by the Sixers (8-3, .727), led by torrid shooting Jodie Meex (in the pic, celebrating with Iguodala).
Jodie, that basically struggled all year so far if you exclude a couple of games quarters, tied a career high with 26 points on an unbelievable 10/11 from the field, that included six treys (on seven).
But seven players in double figures, 55% overall shooting and 12/18 from behind the arc should tell you everything you need to know about this game. “The box score don’t lie”, as some would say (lol), at least this time.
The game basically lasted one minute: that’s what it took Collins to pull Holiday out after a couple of bad turnovers, and talk to his playmaker as Jrue took a seat next to him on the bench. In the meantime, Holiday’s early substitute, Lou Williams, was carrying the Sixers’ offense, scoring eight quick points and adding two dimes in the first, 33-23.
Williams closed the second on his patented pump fake-18 foot jump shot + foul, to complete a three point play that sent the two teams to the locker rooms with Sixers up 54-40.
Then came the third quarter embarassment for Washington, with Meex and Lou drilling treys like crazy and Iguodala, Brand & co following the trend with a flurry of steals (the pitiful Wizards turned the ball over five times on six possessions…), dunks and three point plays. (more after the break)no comments
But, down one man (Hawes), down 17 points in the fourth (78-61), playing their third game in three nights, Sixers fought back to -4 before eventually losing to the Knicks 85-79 to see their six game winning streak snapped: 7-3 (.700).
I think we should be proud of them anyway, because guys never gave up, one more time, even if clearly legs were wearing down in the final minutes, and no shot was falling.
It was a very intense but overall ugly game by both teams, that included some stretches of horrible basketball, quite frankly: neither team scored a FG in the last six minutes, for example...
Anyway I am not disappointed by the loss. The Anthony-Iguodala matchup was phenomenal (in the pic) and it probably ended up with a tie.
Andre made it really hard for Carmelo to score (only 9/24, with a ton of tough shots, fadeway jumpers etc), pushing him also to turn the ball over five times with his great, great, physical defense.
Anthony, on the other hand, clearly took it personal and managed to score 27 (nine in the opening quarter). He was able to get to the line a lot of times, collected nine rebounds and dished out five dimes, making his game a positive one (+5 in the +/-).
With Hawes and with a "normal" contribution by Lou Williams this game would have been a very different story, probably. Same had the two team met two days ago and not at the final stop of a three-game series.
But let's not use this as an excuse, Sixers took advantage of important absences from other teams in the previous nights, so it should go both ways.
Some bullets to close this: (more after the break)
Sixers went for their sixth consecutive win (7-2, .778), after the 112-85 demolition of Sacramento, to remain undefeated at "home", 4-0.
I feel really frustrated by the lack of attention this team is getting from the town, but that is not going to take anything away from what these guys and their coach are doing in this start of the season.
Last night's game, second of a back-to-back-to-back, was another cool, "boring" one, in which Sixers overcome a slow (not sloppy) start to progressively take control.
Vintage Elton Brand abused Cousins on both ends all night and scored 12 in the third, Meex had 10 with three treys, and the 11-0 initial run was the decisive one.
Sixers quickly jumped to +21 after the break (63-42 with 9 min left), to basically make the rest of the game an extended period of garbage time.
Sacramento - that was missing Marcus Thornton btw - is simply a dysfunctional team, with too many guys looking lost out there and not playing as a unit: as soon as they fell down by double digit, Kings gave up, even if the (much) time left could have suggested the opposite.
Now Sixers have a chance to make history (...) winning their third game in three nights, tonight at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks. (more after the break) no comments
Of course, if missing Granger and Hill, it's maybe an average team, or slightly above.
Either way, the hard nosed Sixers made sure to beat the Pacers 96-86 for their fifth consecutive win (6-2, .750).
It was a tough, old school-Eastern Conference game that drove me nuts in several occasions due to the unbelievable amount of silly plays that the Sixers piled up throughout the 48 minutes.
I'm referring particularly to unforced turnovers and dumb/soft fouls, leading in many (too many) cases to three point plays by Pacers' big men.
Ah, where is good old Derrick Coleman when you need him... dude could teach the young guys how to give a hard foul, perhaps.
But when it came to the final minutes, Sixers relied on their best weapon to take the W: the team.
Check out the sequence in the decisive moments:
Floater by Hawes, assisted by Lou Williams (90-82 with 2.20 to play) - One-on-one drive by Young (92-84, at 1.40) - Steal by Williams (1.16) - Fadeway jumper by Iguodala as the shot clock was expiring (94-84 with 55 seconds left).
Those lines sums the game pretty well, except for the fact that a key contributor like Vucevic, that had a pretty impressive game on both ends, is not mentioned. (more after the break) no comments
I cannot express how much I love and fully enjoy these "boring" wins, with extended garbage time: it's absolutely a pleasure for me as a fan.
Raptors were buried in the third quarter: Doug Collins called a quick time out after a couple of sloppy possessions, and from there on Sixers cruised to a 30-8 run that put the game out of reach for Toronto.
It was 73-49 at the end of the period, and the 62 final points scored by Toronto set a new record for the Wells Fargo center: it's the fewest by any opponent in the bulding.
Now comes an interesting period of the season. Sixers currently lead the Atlantic Division (yes, sir) and hold a 1.5 game edge over Boston and New York. Next up are the 6-2 Pacers, that many experts try to "sell" as a very good team/new powerhouse. Uhm.
I'll wait and see them before expressing a better grounded opinion, but I do have the feeling that our roster is better. If you look at the schedule, you'll find out that only two of Indiana's six wins came against teams with a winning record: Boston (4-4) and Cleveland (4-3). They also managed to lose to Detroit, which seems kind of tough...
So we can say that thus far Pacers went on a path very similar to ours (more after the break). no comments
In the first home game after the Hip Hop era Sixers simply did what they were supposed to do and beat a shorthanded Pistons team 96-73, to stay atop of the Atlantic division at 4-2 (.667).
It wasn't pretty for at least 40 minutes, and it took a memorable 4th quarter eruption by Jodie Meex, who scored 17 in the period on 6/6 (before missing a seventh, meaningless shot in garbage time), including four threes and a tough three point play on a fastbreak.
So what had been an eight-ten point lead for the whole game was stretched to twenty (90-70) and the Pistons were finally put away.
Make no mistake, not only the Pistons are extremely poor in talent and have serious scoring issues (btw: are we sure that giving Villanueva a DNP CD is a good idea when you can't make a three or knock down a jumper to save your life ??), but they were also missing Ben Gordon and Rodney Stuckey.
So they did what they were supposed to do as well, playing their butt off on every possession, staying close making things tough as long as they could.
Notable things about this game.
1) decent crowd. I was happy for that until I read that
Harris admitted before the game the Sixers had sold less than 3,000 tickets to the opener as of about three weeks ago. But a flurry of discounted tickets (some going for the "patriotic price" of $17.76) and plenty of giveaways nearly packed the place.
2) Iguodala and Brand combined for 9 points on 3/13 shooting in nearly 63 minutes of "action". I'll leave the comments to you. It seemed to me that Brand has got wooden legs, really worrying (more after the break). no comments