At last. Ahhhhhh the feeling of winning. Oh how much we’ve missed you winning. You know those last little moments before you fall to sleep at night? I don’t know if it’s just me or not but I usually think of my favorite sports teams and how they’re doing before I doze off into my slumber.
If my teams are doing bad I go to sleep grumpy and usually will awake to a nightmare or even worse, just toss and turn all night. If they’re doing well, I usually have a little smile on face and sleep pleasantly throughout the night.
Well Sixers fans, I bet you slept well last night. We beat down the Milwaukee Bucks in pretty convincingly fashion last night, 90-79. The 76ers claimed the lead for almost the entirety of the night and brought home the first professional basketball victory the City of Philadelphia could embrace since November 7th. The win snapped the Sixers five game losing streak and is something Doug Collins can harp on over these next three off days to keep team morale positive.
Instantaneously after the opening tip, the 76er defensive intensity was apparent. Evan Turner looked inspired guarding John Salmons on-and-off on the evening, helping to limit what was once the Bucks top offensive option to only 11 points. Starting forward Nocioni punched in three steals himself and was repeatedly on the free throw line, canning seven of his 12 points from the stripe.
And point guard Jrue Holiday did more than just hold his own. Brandon Jennings was 3-of-13 from the field (Hence the reason the title of this post is a shot at Jennings’ new Under Armour campaign.) . Milwaukee shot only 33 percent from the field. More than once the shot clock nearly expired before the Bucks were able to launch up a prayer.
Center Andrew Bogut was pegged as the main component of why Milwaukee was supposed to easily win this contest. Sure, Bogut held his own defensively, as he should being a 7-footer with a huge wingspan. He blocked five shots and eliminated Elton Brand (4 points) from having a say in the game.
But straight up, Bogut is slow. Painfully slow. Like he seriously still might be injured and that could explain his struggles early on this season. And because of his energy and how much the Bucks rely on him to at least touch the ball (and then proceed to kick it back out) on offense, Milwaukee slows down for him. If Bogut’s play does not improve, I can envision a scenario in which the Bucks miss the playoffs this season in an improved Eastern Conference (Indiana, New York, New Jersey etc.)
But just so you don’t get it twisted, Philadunkia’s home team smothered the Bucks all night defensively and that’s what won this game.
Still you may be asking yourself, “So who filled the shoes of AI9 (DNP) and Brand on the offensive end?” Thaddeus Young, that’s who. Thad had his best outing of the season — 23 points and six boards. He was everywhere offensively too. Nailing jumpers, cutting along the baseline, you name it. Thad has now scored double figures in five straight games. Young logged major minutes tonight (39) and really set the tempo with his drives to the bucket. He’s is more athletic than the other Bucks wingmen like Maggette and Salmons and found himself in very favorable matchups majority of the night.
Young wasn’t alone on the bench either, the reserves overall were a big factor last night (49 total points). Lou Williams produced his best game since that Knicks victory two weeks ago with 19 points and three triples. LouWil is a player who has a knack for getting to the free throw line but has seen his field goal percentage drop to a career worst 36.4 percent. Without Thad and Lou’s effort on offense this win wouldn’t have been possible.
The best thing I took away from our third victory this season was that we never let up. We never allowed Milwaukee to creep back into the game, like most NBA cellar-dwellers tend to do in fourth quarters. Call me crazy, but is this the start of a three game winning streak? The next two games are on the road (at Washington and at Toronto) against teams the Sixers look better then on paper, but have already lost to in the 2010-11 season. Let’s see what strategies Doug Collins can scheme up to combat John Wall and Andres Bargnani — as both players dominated the 7-6 in their matchups earlier this season.
- 13 Fast break points in the first half were vital to Philadelphia’s best victory this season. It came over a well-coached Milwaukee Bucks team that made a little noise in last year’s postseason. The Sixers finished with 23.
- It was evident that Bucks just weren’t fired up for this contest and were looking ahead to their game tonight vs. the OKC Thunder. The Sixers took advantage of that attitude, threw the lockdown on them from the jump, grabbed the lead with 9 minutes remaining in the 2nd Q and never looked back.
- We mentioned that defensive intensity; the Sixers finished with eight steals.
- Marreese Speights ended up with 10 boards but was just 1-for-seven from the floor. That one shot was a pretty deep jumper late in the third quarter to put the Sixers up 71-57. The Bucks really seemed to sag after that prayer went through the hoop.
- Of course NBA.com has the highlights.