One of the most frequent comments we’ve been hearing around the NBA about our Sixers this year is that they are a better team then their record. It is one thing that I don’t doubt about the team, but due to their lack of defense and killer instinct all year I had a hard time buying into this sentiment.
Last night however, the Sixers were a different team. They were a team that was seen only one other time this year in a road victory against the Portland Trailblazers. The Sixers beat the Dallas Mavericks 92-81 in a straight up rout which improved their record to (14-28) and dropped the Mavericks to (28-15).
There was a different feel from the get go throughout the Wachovia Center as Eddie Jordan finally decided to use a defensive rotation. Instead of the Starting line-up being Sammy D, Thaddeus Young, Andre Iguodala, Allen Iverson, and Louis Williams the line-up was a little more defensive minded. The line-up went Samuel Dalembert, Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala, Allen Iverson, and Jrue Holiday. Brand and Holiday are an extreme upgrade on defense compared to Young and Williams, although what really stuck out was the spark that the demotion gave to Young and Williams having to come off the bench. Sure Holiday and Brand were playing great defense. Holiday held Kidd to 2-7 shooting, while Brand held Nowitzki to only 4-13 shooting. When on offense, Young and Williams found a will and a way to get to the basket for the Sixers. The two combined for 33 points off the bench which gave the Sixers a much needed lift throughout the game. They also played the best defensively that they have all season, which led to plenty of Mav’s missed shots and frustrated faces.
During the third quarter, which is usually the quarter in which the Sixers falter this season, the team outscored the Mavericks 18-12 and had a solid 12 point lead entering the fourth quarter. The Sixers outscored the Mavericks 52-38 points in the paint for the game and left the rest to their defense who responded arguably the best they have all season.
Obviously this is one of the best Sixer wins of the season, however what does this mean for the second half of the season? Are the Sixers turning over a new leaf, or will they fall back into the team we know all too well who builds leads that break on a nightly basis? Sure we have the talent and I think that Eddie starting Brand and Holiday was a great move looking toward the rest of the season. This team however has been so inconsistent both on the floor as well as coached that nobody really knows what will happen in the coming games. If the Sixers can beat the Lakers on Friday then maybe this team could be for real. However, this team lost to the Wizards twice and the Timberwolves once. They’re pretty much the most frustrating team in the NBA to watch due to their inconsistent coaching and play.
At this point in the season I don’t have much faith at all in this team, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they start to win some games. They have had some very, very tough losses this year which easily could’ve been wins, and with a slight tweak in their line-up such as last night it could prove to be the difference down the road.
The Sixers can’t take any teams lightly and with the Pacers (twice) and Bucks coming up next, these are some must win games for the Sixers of having any chance at the playoffs this year. With the win over the Mavericks you cannot write this team off yet, but it’s hard to believe in them at the same time. Inconsistency leads to question, and I have more questions with this team than answers so far this season. The more consistent they can play, the more confident Philadunkia and I can be in our conclusions. Until the day comes where I am a believer, the Sixers have to prove themselves for me to believe.