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Written by Ricky - Sixers4guidos | 27 February 2011

altI was optimistic before this game, maybe because I remembered some nice Ws in Houston in recent years.

But the 105-114 W over the Rockets went beyond my expectations.

Sixers get to the All star break at 27-29 (.482) equaling the total of wins of last season, but with 26 games left to play.

More important, they look like a real team, far from the hapless "bunch of strangers" that started the season 3-13: they are 24-16 since. If you saw that coming, please holla at me.

About the Houston game, I have a had time trying to pick what was the sweetest thing among the following:

  • seven players in double figure
  • Iguodala's triple double (despite the poor shooting, 3/15)
  • 55% from the field on the road
  • Hawes' big night: 17 + 10 in less than 27 minutes, on 8/11 shooting
  • Jrue's terrific shooting, to go with eight dimes (that made me forget that Lowry was 11/11 at a point, and 5/5 from three at halftime...)
  • the rally from -12 in the first (18-6) with Rockets connecting on four of their first five threes
  • Thaddeus Young's great lift off the bench: awesome season for him, and I'd say Collins has a lot to do with that, he found him the perfect role

Can Sixers be improved through a trade? Surely, this run can't make us forget the weaknesses of this roster, and overrating it could be a painful mistake.

But since we are not in a win-now mode, the idea of not touching this growing core can make sense, thinking in the long term.

In the meantime, let's continue to enjoy many games like this one. 

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Written by Ricky - Sixers4guidos | 27 February 2011

altI'm glad there aren't Grizzlies games left.

Sixers (26-29, .473) got swept this year after the 102-91 loss in Memphis

Simply the 26-10 hole we dug ourselves in the first quarter was too big.

Sixers had eight turnovers in the period, shot 5/17 and finished it being outscored 18-2.

All they did after to overcome that poor start wasn't enough, and Memphis came out with the W despite losing Rudy Gay to an injury in the middle of the second quarter (score at 41-26).

It was a pretty weird game, with Conley scoring 0 pts in the first half and finishing with 22, including a banked in three pointer, a steal and another three as the shot clock was wining down that closed the game in the fourth (95-81).

I mean, we got killed by Mike Conley's outside shooting + Randolph's offensive rebounding. Not a great night, despite the nice comeback that we had in the third, when Sixers, carried by Lou Williams (in the pic), got within one: 71-70.

We couldn't get a stop when we needed it and the (surprising) 44-37 rebounding edge in our favor was overcome by the difference in turnovers: Sixers 17, Memphis 7.

Only two starters in double figure with the best scorer among them at 13, was another sign that something was missing in Memphis: in these circumstances the loss was inevitable.

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Written by Ricky - Sixers4guidos | 27 February 2011

altIf I only knew that all I had to do in order to get us wins was taking days off...

Due to a lovely weekend in Barcelona I completely missed two huge wins by the Sixers: the 77-71 against the Spurs (25-28, .471) and the following 87-107 at Minnesota (26-28, .481).

Judging from the facts I could check after (boxscore, play-by-play page, highlights) I guess the only nice thing of the Spurs game was the final W, because shooting was awful on both parts.

Winning a low scoring game against a traditionally defensive minded team like San Antonio is a very good sign, I guess.

Also, I loved to see how Holiday was the MVP, closing the game with four foul shots in the last 20 seconds, how Hawes was the only other scorer in double figure (!) and how Brand managed to pull down seventeen rebounds against Duncan, Blair, Dice & co.

A huge, huge step in Sixers' growing process.

Totally different thing in Minnesota, where Sixers placed seven players in double figure, kept T'Wolves to only 13 fourth quarter points, with no player getting more than 35 minutes.

But the most important thing to me is that the young Sixers showed some maturity playing with the right attitude against the lowly T'Wolves after the big win of the night before, over an elite, veteran team (more after the jump).

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Written by Ricky - Sixers4guidos | 27 February 2011

altNot many hopes to win when Dwight Howard shoots free throws better than your whole team, right?

"Superman" - always hated this nickname, very lame... - went 14/19 from the line (73%), while Sixers  combined for 15/22 (68%).

The final 95-99 L to Orlando came nearly "natural" in such unusual circumstances.

Nice game, anyway, and good effort by the Sixers (24-28, .462), that continue to compete well against the elite teams.

Lou Williams' fourth quarter (18 points) was something spectacular, and deserved perhaps a different end.

The kind of loss that can't leave you too much upset, I'd say.

Few points I have to add (after the jump):

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Written by Ricky - Sixers4guidos | 27 February 2011

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You don't see many "quiet" games like this in a season, especially on the road, so I fully enjoyed Sixers' 83-117 W in Atlanta, that raised our record to 24-27 (.471).

Hawks were missing Al Horford and overall looked dead, if not uninterested.

But that shouldn't take anything away from the Sixers, that played a phenomenal game on both ends of the floor, taking advantage of their opponents' off night.

The lead grew from 2-10 to 5-15 to 9-25, to 13-33 in the first quarter (!), closed at +18: we eventually cruised to a 33-65 half time lead, thanks also to red hot shooting in the quarter (we were 10/13 at 27-54).

Yes, Atlanta scored thirty-three points in the first 24 minutes, a season low: that speaks volumes.

And while everyone was fearing a collapse in the second half, or at least expecting a comeback by the Hawks (right?), that never happened as Sixers continued their domination in the third, maintaining a 30 point lead at the end (58-88) that turned the whole fourth into pure, lovely garbage time (more after the jump).

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Written by Ricky - Sixers4guidos | 07 February 2011

alt

Ok, I think yesterday was just "one of those games".

I don't know how else you can describe the 117-103 L at New York, that dropped Sixers' record to 23-27 (.460).

I mean, when a big man and a guy on the perimeter combine for 66 points on 27/34 (that's 79 % !!), it's tough to beat that team: Stoudemire (17/21) and Fields (10/13, with 5/7 from behind the arc) literally killed us with a rare combination of inside/outside game.

Actually the outside part was provided by Amar'e also, because I think he knocked down at least 7-8 shots from 15-17 feet. Not much you can do on those when guarding a 6'10 guy that can beat you off the dribble at will if you stay too close.

That's why I cannot honestly blame anyone in particular for the loss: in a 82 game season, explosions like the one Knicks had on Sunday can happen when you play offensive minded teams such as Phoenix, Golden State, Orlando or New York, exactly.

Sixers didn't have a horrible defensive game, as the 60% shooting by the Knicks would suggest: they were simply outscored by a red hot team in an up tempo game, simple as that.

I think we really need to get Holiday back at his usual levels asap: Jrue has failed to reach double figure in five of the last eight games, and in the last 12 games is shooting just 36%.

No big deal, he's simply going through a bad stretch, again it can happen in such a long season, especially if you are a 20 y/o sophomore.... (more after the jump).

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Written by Ricky - Sixers4guidos | 05 February 2011

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Kind of a sixer-esque collapse.

Only, this time, not by the Sixers.

It was the Knicks to fall badly in the fourth, stunned by Sixers' fantastic rally.

100-98 the final score in a really emotional night, 23-26 (.469) the record after a game that I watched live, going to bed at 4 AM, still excited.

The nearly 19,000 crowd (I guess at least a 20% of them were Knicks fans, judging from the reaction after their field goals and the "MVP !!" chants for Stoudemire), the wild finish, the great plays.. and the final W against a division rival, competing with us for a playoffs spot: many things made this game a special one.

Maybe a turning point in Sixers' rollercoaster season. How about 20-13 after the 3-13 start ??? Let's try to make an analysis.

REASONS

To be optimistic

1) Brand just played the best game of his career as a Sixer: 33 points on  23 shots, 16 rebounds, zero turnovers and two blocks look like vintage numbers for Brand, who totally dominated on both ends of the floor.

He was simply phenomenal in the first quarter (19 points on 7/8 + 5/5 from the line) and delivered in crunch time, finishing the Knicks with the 100-92 jumper with 1.19 remaining. Sixers didn't score after, but it was enough (more after the jump).

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Written by Ricky - Sixers4guidos | 04 February 2011

altBefore the Knicks series, fellow bloguiners at Knicks Fanatics asked me to do a short Q&A collaboration post.

I thought it would have been good to have a piece written in a proper english once in a lifetime, so that's the final outcome:

Do you consider Sixers as a real "competitor" for a playoffs spot or not?

The Sixers are certainly a competitor for a playoff spot, if for the simple and mind-burning realty that the bottom half of the Eastern Conference is not that good. The Nets, Raptors, Wizards and that thing they call a team in Cleveland are all shot to Hell's green room just waiting to make an appearance on the draft lottery show.

Detroit, the Bucks and Indiana, now that the youngin's have been freed by embattled GM Larry Bird all have a chance to improve and challenge for the 8th and 7th spots, but the 76ers are just more talented and more cohesive than those wanna bes. These next two games are very important for the Knicks playoff positioning, especially since the Sixers beat us in the previous contest.

These middling teams are the ones we can build our record and some consistency on.  If the Sixers fail to play for 36-48 minutes, they will not beat the Knicks. The Knicks know the Sixers are key to their success.  We expect they will come to play the entire game which is what got them to this point.

Sixers4guidos is...uh, well, an italian blog. How would you rank the season of Guido, pardon, Danilo Gallinari so far? What does he need to work on to improve?

Since returning from his injury Danilo "The Rooster" Gallinari has improved significantly because somebody or somebodies finally realized that the strength of his game is not "shooting."  In Europe, as a youngster he was the go to guy to win games. He was a scorer and a creator who started out with the ball in his hands. He didn't stand on the arc like he was waiting for a taxi or to be hit by a meteor. He created. 

Now he seems to have the green light to do drive to the basket where he can stay focused and employ his considerable European acting skills to get to the line. The decision to drive totally opens up his game and keeps him relevant when he is on the floor (more after the jump).

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Written by Ricky - Sixers4guidos | 04 February 2011

altSixers won 92-106 in New Jersey, guidos' land, to raise their record to 22-26 (.458).

It was a very good game, despite few moments of true scare and a couple of attempts to kick the monitor in the midst of Nets' (uncompleted) comeback.

Yes, when our lead was cut from +21 (48-69) to +9 (66-75) in the third, and Sixers started turning the ball over against their (not even much effective) zone, I smelled another last quarter collapse.

Fortunately Lou Willaims, Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand had different ideas and we were able to close the game in the final 4 minutes. 

Jrue's first career triple double (11-10-11, with only one turnover) is perhaps the highlight of the game, but the 35-7 lead in fastbreak points, the 18/18 from the line and the 47-38 rebounding edge, the five men in double figure and ten men scoring were all huge factors, evidences of a good team effort.

Sixers didn't use Iguodala as "point forward" much, at least not more than they do on a nightly basis: they simply didn't need it. All guys playing at the point did a very good job of taking care of the ball, putting pressure on the ball to get steals and therefore easy points in transition.

Lou Williams (my MVP) scored every time we really needed it, mixing drives, jumpers shots and fast break points: 26 points on only twelve shots is impressive. He was the best solution to solve our problems against Nets' zone.

I must say I was really pleased, and surprised, by the was we limited Brook Lopez, a very skilled big man that torched us countless times with monster games: Humphries did well, but we won the battle under the boards, something that doesn't happen often.

Now let's cross the Hudson to face the Knicks in a home-and-home series over the weekend, I am curious to see how we will guard Amar'e Stoudamire and perform against our division rival for a playoffs spot.

I'll have a nice collaboration post with the guys over at Knicks Fanatics, stay tuned !!

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Written by Ricky - Sixers4guidos | 02 February 2011

altAfter the nice 110-99 W over Denver the Sixers stand at 21-26 (.447), currently 'good' enough for the seventh place in the Eastern conference.

If the regular season would end today, we would face Miami in the first round of the playoffs.... how does that sound? Weird? Yes. Funny? Probably.

Let's get this straight, as already stated also here, Sixers are NOT a "real" playoffs team. Better, they shouldn't be a playoffs team.

Fact is, we have good chances to make the postseason ...for real. 

Our "competitors" are not that good: the horrible Pistons are just 3 1/2 games from the last playoffs spot, with a 17-31 (.354) record...

Sixers' upcoming schedule looks tough: in February they will play five games at home and seven on the road.

But the next three ones could be decisive, especially the home-and-home series with the Knicks, now the sixth team in the conference.

Finally, some interesting stats:

  • in January Thaddeus Young is averaging 12.4 ppg on 55% shooting, to go with 5.2 rebounds
  • Elton Brand is shooting 55% in 2011 and is averaging 17 ppg in the last five
  • Iguodala is shooting an excellent 58% in the last nine games
  • Williams has 14 assists and only 3 turnovers in the last four
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