(Back to the normal blogging schedule !!)
Forget Blake Griffin.
He (Griffin) will not forget Brand. And his defense.
Elton was my MVP in the 'interesting' 94-104 W over the Clippers, a much needed win in the middle of this pivotal five game road trip (35-33, .515).
Meeks gets all the praise for his great shooting night, and Holiday too for his terrific stat line and big buckets in the final minutes.
But to me the key factor for this win was Brand's presence on both ends of the floor.
Not only he limited, even frustrated Griffin with suffocating low post defense, he was effective also coming from the weak side (5 blocks) and added 19 + 12. This time the +/- doesn't lie: +26 for Brand, the best Sixer).
I said interesting because a lot of things happened, from the questionable officiating to Clippers' awful foul shooting (12/26 at a point), to Collins' ejection, in Sixers' usual run made/run allowed game.
This time it was from +18 (59-77, 2.25 left in the third) to + 8 (71-79 at -10.10 in the fourth - more after the jump).no comments
(Late post 7 of 7)
Very similar to the Thunder game.
Maybe slightly better, because here we made a great comeback.
Maybe slightly worse, because the opponent was WAY weaker than Oklahoma City, honestly.
It doesn't really matter though, bottom line Sixers fell 112-107 in OT to Utah, for their third loss in the last four games (34-33, .507).
And again, we had more than a chance to take this HUGE one home.
(Late post 6 of 7)
I ripped Iguodala countless times this year for his (countless and well documented) shortcomings in crunch time.
But he gave me the biggest joy of the season scoring the decisive basket in the 89-86 W over Boston.
That drive against Pavlovic/Garnett (in the pic) had me jumping in front of my screen, no BS.
Sixers (34-31, .523) snapped a seven game losing streak at home vs the Celtics (!!) to surpass the total of wins I predicted for them this season.
Not bad uh?
But there was more:
(Late post 5 of 7)
Instead, we lost it.
The 105-110 OT L to the Thunder left me u-n-b-e-l-i-e-v-a-b-l-y pissed off.
Sixers (33-31, .516) played a heck of a playoffs-like game for 45 1/2 minutes and literally shit in their pants in the final 2 1/2 of the regulation and overtime, to eventually deserve the defeat.
Let's recap it: Lou Williams hit a three to give us a five point lead (101-96 with 2.19 left) and Sixers.. basically stopped playing from there on.
Stats don't lie:
(Late post 4 of 7)
It was one of those typical 2010-2011 Sixers games: but we managed to finish it, just as it happened in Cleveland.
Sixers beat Indiana 100-110, to keep the respective trends going.
Pacers lost their sixth of seven games, while Sixers won for the eight time in the last ten (33-30, .524).
At this ...pace, they can't be considered rivals for the last playoffs spot, as our goals are now higher.
A lot of things have to be underlined from:
(Late post 3 of 7)
It was harder than I thought, and it took a lot, but Sixers eventually came out with the expected W over Minnesota, 110-100, to improve to 31-30 (.508).
Few points to recap this:
- 10-0 run to finish the game in the last 2.30 minutes, from 101-100 to the final 111-100, to me the best news of the night
- phenomenal game by Iguodala, with a ridiculous 22-10-13 triple double
- six in double figure, again, three of which came off the bench: it speaks volumes of our balanced attack
- fellow serbian Pekovic looked like a good player, while Love is a beast
I couldn't watch the 125-117 OT W over Golden State, that put us two games above the .500 mark for the first time this year (32-30, .516) - more after the jump.no comments
(Late post 2 of 7)
I think that's the lesson it should be learned after the 93-101 L to the Mavs, that had their winning streak extended to seven and put Sixers back to .500 (30-30).
Sixers didn't play a great game but fought hard and never let the red hot Mavs take a big lead, staying close for 48 minutes.
Down the stretch, though, the difference between having go-to-guys and lacking them became evident - as if there was a need.
Sixers simply laid an egg in the fourth: 2/12 shooting at a point, including six straight empty possessions, and 3/10 FTs....
Nowitzki and an unbelievably precise Jason Terry (13/18 from the field, basically all on jumpers) won the game for Dallas in the final plays after Meex hit a transition three for the 91-92 with 1.41 left.
But after Dirk knocked down his trademark fall away jumper over Iguodala (91-94), Holiday was blocked to spark a fastbreak finished by Terry with a dunk: 91-96. (more after the jump).no comments
(Late post 1 of 7...)
Doug Collins is 110% right when he says that "When we were 3-13 we would have found a way to lose this ballgame".
Instead, Sixers escaped with a 91-95 W in Cleveland to climb above .500 mark for the first time this season (30-29, .508).
There must be a reason if Sixers won the fourth straight, sixth in the last seven (27-16 after the 3-13 start): they learned how to close (close) games.
This time it was kinda surprising how Cavs got back into it, in a wild finish.
After Sixers built a 50-65 lead, and Jamison had to leave because of a finger injury at the end of the third with his team still trailing by fifteen (58-73, 126 to play), Sessions and Hickson carried their team mates to a stunning comeback in the fourth, that Sixers made easier with horrible choices, rushed shots, three point plays allowed.
We even saw Iguodala frontrimming a dunk on a fastbreak and Hawes getting fooled by Hickson on a missed free throw, for an embarassing put back.
Cavs made it a one possession game with only 50 seconds to play on a jumper by Sessions (88-91) and after Iguodala committed an offensive foul (...), Thad Young came up big with a decisive steal with 12 seconds left on the play that could have tied the game (in the pic).
Holiday and Meeks sealed the win shooting 4/4 from the line in the final 10 seconds (more after the jump).no comments
I love these quiet, "boring" wins.
Let's update the numbers: Sixers are now 26-16 after the 3-13 start and won nine of the last twelve. And there's a good chance to improve those stats in the next game, against the revamped (?) Cavs.
Again, I am pleased to admit that I was completely wrong about this team. This surge is a complete shocker to me, I predicted 33 Ws before the season started and thought we could even fail to reach that total after the first 20 games.
We should not get carried away, .500 is the definition of mediocrity in the NBA and Sixers are at least three players away from being a contender, but for this team, this roster, with that kind of a slow (to be kind) start, the mark it's a huge accomplishment. Something to build on, definitely.
I have to be honest, I would be extremely disappointed if Sixers will miss the playoffs now, but at 3-13 I was already hoping for a high pick.... (more after the jump).no comments
While many NBA teams were shaking their rosters with big trades, Sixers stood pat.
As the trade deadline expired, Sixers beat the distracted Wizards 117-94, to get one game below
mediocrity the .500 mark: 28-29, .491.
Yes, Washington made a trade during the game (!), and that surely didn't help their focus: Wizards fell to 1-27 on the road, crashed by the surging Sixers in the second half.
We had seven players in double figure for the second consecutive game: the unselfish, balanced offense has become an enjoyable habit for this team, that is building some momentum also with big second halves.
Sixers topped the total of wins of last season, won for the 11th time in the last 15 games and are now 25-16 after the infamous 3-13 start.
I have to take my hat off to Doug Collins (never been a great fan of him and maybe this is the best time to admit it) and all the players because I never, even thought they could turn this season around after the first twenty games (more after the jump).no comments