Posted by: Kevin Jones
12/08/10 12:04 pm EST

After the inevitable November 26th Philadelphia 76er loss to the Miami Heat, I began drafting a piece for this website on the potential lottery picks we could scoop up in the top five of the upcoming draft.  After all, the Sixers had just dropped games in Washington and Toronto to worsen their record to an appalling 3-13.

But wait a minute, hold on just a second.  I can stop the presses now on an early NBA lottery preview because the Sixers (7-14) have won four out of their last five games, including their last five games at the Wells Fargo Center.

The striking thing about the Sixers last four wins is that the team has had a different leading scorer each night, and none of them have been named Andre Iguodala.

Jrue Holiday, Elton Brand, Jodie Meeks and last night’s leader Thaddeus Young, have all catapulted themselves to become big time scorers when they need to be.  This in turn frees up Iguodala to play the role of utility man, a much more effective way of employing Iggy’s talents rather than the leading scorer.  It took nearly 20 games to get adjusted to a new style of basketball but nearly every team member finally seems to be adjusting to the role Head Coach Doug Collins has carved out for them.

Tuesday nights 117-97 trouncing over the Cleveland Cavaliers almost looked like a scripted recital rather than a basketball game.  The Sixers scored 35 points in the opening period and got a huge boost all evening from its bench.  Thaddeus Young scored a season high 26 points (seven in the first quarter) and hauled in 11 rebounds.  Young’s recent play off the bench has been sensational — he’s scored in double figures 11 out of his last 13 games.

Did you know that Thaddeus Young is third in the entire NBA in field goal percentage?  Last night’s 11-of-12 performance unquestionably helped his cause, but Young (59.5%) is the only non-big-man ranked in the top 10.  When Thad gains possession of the rock good things tend to happen.  Young even launched a disgusting looking deep three pointer late in the fourth quarter that somehow fell through the net.

I noted one specific play that the Sixers executed perfectly, and used as a springboard to quiet any surmounting Cleveland offensive run.  Early in the second quarter the Sixersled 37-29, a very slim margin still with about 35 minutes of basketball still to play.  After Jawad Williams missed a short floater, Spencer Hawes grabbed the board and without hesitation fired a terrific outlet pass to Lou Williams.  Lou picked up the ball right near the half court logo and drove directly at the ever-aging Antawn Jamison.  Normally you would expect Williams to do what he does best, and draw the foul.  But at the very last second possible Williams fired a chest pass into the waiting arms of Thaddeus Young, who proceeded to throw home a monster jam.  That play alone — produced in chief by the Sixers bench — crushed whatever remaining life the Cav’s had last night.

And that’s just the kind of evening it was for Philadelphia.  Shooting 51.9 percent from the floor, draining 25-of-30 free throws, seven playersscoring at least 10 points, committing just seven turnovers and out rebounding the Cav’s 44 to 29.  Doug Collins referred to center Spencer Hawes as the “Ace of spades” from Tuesday night’s victory.  Hawes — for once — looked like a big man to respect in the Eastern Conference by snatching a season-high 12 rebounds and posting 10 points.  Hawes is averaging six rebounds in his last 10 games, a vast improvement of the 2.9 he was averaging in the 11 games prior.  Defensively things were even better for Hawes, who bested Cleveland’s ball of energy Anderson Varejao, limiting the seven-footer to four points and eight rebounds.  Hawes’ at last provided a big presence in the paint, forcing Cleveland to take more jumpers than they probably would have liked to.

I mentioned in my Saturday recap win over the Charlotte Bobcats that we play our best basketball when we are moving in transition.  Tuesday night brought more of the same results as the 76ersfinished with 24 fast break points.  Jodie Meeks’ energy and alertness on where to spot up on the break have been uncanny over this past week.  His three point shot torched the home court nets again. Meekssailed in four shots from behind the arc and ended up with 16 points which tied Jrue Holiday as a game high for Philly starters.

I mentioned how Iguodala can now become more of a utility man thanks to the increased scoring performances of several different Sixers.  And against the Cav’s you saw exactly what he can do when he doesn’t have to be “The Man.”  Iggy’s seven dimes matched point guard Jrue Holiday’s total.  Jodie Meeks’ emergence has opened up the offensive role of a slasher, which in my opinion is what Iguodala does the best. He threw down two ferocious dunks, but more importantly willed his way to the free throw line eight times.

Is it time to order your Eastern Conference playoff tickets yet?  Well, not exactly.  The Sixers last four wins have been against opponents who are headed down the wrong path: New Jersey, Portland, Charlotte and now Cleveland.  The 40 games for each of these franchises has resulted in 12 wins and 28 losses.

But all of a sudden Philadelphia isn’t in the basement of the East and things are looking up.


2 Responses to “GM 21 RECAP: STREAKING”

  1. Ransom
    8. December 2010 at 12:31

    I was at this game, and it was good to see the team clicking finally and playing well together. I just cant help but wonder if we are winning out way into no-mans land. Im not necessarily a fan of tanking seasons, its not fair to the fans, players, etc. However this sixers team does present a problem. They clearly dont have enough talent to be competitive, not even close. Nowadays championship calibur teams generally have 2 all star level players (one of whom generally needs to be a top 5 player in the NBA, or at least play like one come june) and then one borderline all-star as a 3rd guy. The sixers dont have one such person. We dont really have the assets to go get such a player via trade, nor the cap room for that matter. And with this recent up turn on performance, we wont have the draft picks either. The problem with the NBA draft lottery system has always been that it neglects the mediocre. Those that just miss the playoffs or are first-round exits rarely get a pick that they can turn into a team altering asset. Look at when the sixer occupied that type of spot over the past 5 or so years. Our drafts have yielded us guys like: Iggy, thad, lou, speights… all relatively useful players, some are downright must play (especially recently) but none fall into those categories i mentioned before about championship calibur teams. Thing is, in the NBA, aside from needing a little luck, and a good front office, you need to be decisive, there is no middle group. If you want to be good, you either have to be good, or suck first. There are very few teams that wind up going from mediocre to great. Look at what OKC did? they sucked for a few seasons. And now they have 2 of the top 15 players in the entire NBA. Or, look at Boston, they were the worst, then they turned that caps space and former high draft picks into KG and ray allen. Point being, im happy the sixers are winning…but i really cant get too happy about us plotting a course again for overachieving mediocrity.

  2. PhillyDude
    8. December 2010 at 16:57

    I sat courtside last night, and it was the first time I’ve seen Dizzy Doug Collins genuinely happy with the team’s performance. But man… the look in Evan Turner’s eyes right now is not one I’d anticipated seeing from our #2 pick 20-some games into the season. I’m actually starting to think we should keep Iggy and trade ET…

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