We’re not super excited about the 76ers win (9-22) last night in Sacramento. Why you ask? Well the Sixers did what solid teams are supposed to do when faced with injury riddled, inferior competition – the Sixers handled their business. The Kings (14-17) are one of the worst defensive teams in the League and were without their two of their best players in lead ROY candidate Tyreke Evans and scoring machine Kelvin Martin. Both Evans and Martin were out because of injuries. That’s 50 points per game that was missing from Sacto’s lineup when they took they floor against the Sixers. So while we’re pleased the Sixers got the W and we’re happy about the two-game win streak, we’re still not ready to declare that this season has been turned around.
Now, with that disclaimer out of the way, there were several very positive things that happened for the 76ers last night and the breakdown is after the jump.
The 76ers had balanced scoring: It’s the most obvious item on our list but we can not over state how important having multiple threats on the floor is for an NBA team. The Sixers had six players in double figures — Iguodala (19), Iverson (20), Brand (14), Carney (14), Louis (22) and Thad (11). Philadunkia’s home team displayed excellent ball movement, frequently made the extra pass (23 assists) for easy looks and baskets and appears to have confidence in each other that the next guy will make shots.
The Sixers continued their hot shooting: For the second straight game the Sixers shot 50% or better from the field (52.5% last night). They also hit from deep at a 56.2% clip, mostly thanks to Carney’s 4 out of 5 shooting from behind the arc. We’re not sure it will continue, so enjoy the buckets while you can.
The bench was a huge factor again: Brand and Carney had big nights off the bench offensively and Speights threw in eight points, but it was the defense and attitude displayed by the second unit that turned this game around in the second quarter, built on that momentum in the 3rd and put the contest away in the 4th Q.
Iverson is really back: Although AI was limping at the end of the game after banging his knee with just two minutes left, overall he seemed to have his burst back and his legs under him. More importantly he really appears to understand his role on this team and is working well within that role. His 11 point 3rd Q outburst also proves he can still score at will in this League.
Energy from the bench: When was the last time you saw the Sixers bench standing up, excited and cheering their teammates on as they did during last night’s W? It’s been so long, we can’t remember, but we liked the energy and vibe the guys on the pine brought to the game.
The 76ers hung tough on the glass: As we mentioned in our preview, the Kings are one of the better rebounding teams in the League (14th best) and Jason Thompson is an offensive rebounding beast. The Sixers gave up 14 second chances to the Kings which is not great, but tolerable, and only lost the overall rebounding battle 40-38.
The 76ers fought back: Playing sloppy, mistake prone basketball and down 13 at one point in the first half the Sixers got it turned around and went into the locker room at half tied at 50. They then came out of the half and quickly reestablished their momentum by jumping out 56-51.
The 76ers showed killer instinct: It’s something they have lacked all year, but for a second straight game, the Sixers grabbed a 4th Q lead, could feel the Kings struggling to stay in the game and then proceeded to put their foot on Sacto’s throat and close them out. Last night’s close out came with 10:25 remaining and the Sixers leading 87-81. Rodriguez missed a 3PA for Sacto, Brand grabbed the board, the Sixers pushed the break and Louis got an AND 1 down the other end. The sequence started a 7-2 Sixers run that extended the lead to 11 at one point and the Kings never got closer then 6 points the rest of the way.