Some were great individual performances. Some included a stretch of good fortune. The remaining moments were big-time victories that brought an excitement level to Philadunkia nation which we had not felt in years.
I listed my tem favorite moments from this past season in chronological order, and as you can imagine, none of those first 16 games (a.k.a. the dreadful 3-13 start) are mentioned in this piece.
Jodie Meeks’ Breakout 1st Quarter Against the Charlotte Bobcats
Jodie Meeks was still a relatively unknown player for the Sixers. On December 4th, in just his second start under head coach Doug Collins, Meeks lit the scoreboard with six three-pointers and 20 points in the opening quarter. The ridiculous start would stamp his name into the starting lineup for the remainder of the year and ignite this Sixers’ ball club to only their sixth win in 20 games. Meeks would finish the game with 26 points en route to a 109-91 win over the Bobcats.
Turner & Holiday: The Future
Against the Phoenix Suns on December 29th, rookie Evan Turner and 20 year-old Jrue Holiday showed what the Sixers potentially have to offer for the next decade. The two flashed their scoring talents as they both combined for 48 points on 21/30 from the field. It was Turner’s season-high performance (23 points) and included 11 points in the fourth quarter to fend off the Suns for a 123-110 victory. If this pair can continue to formidably grow, the Sixers will be consistent contenders in the East.
Beating The Best
Limiting Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker to 5/20 from the field and only 17 points, we fought for a narrow 77-71 triumph over the San Antonio Spurs who owned the best record in the League. Winning this contest put us at 25-28 and was the ultimate statement game. Everyone around the League was starting to take notice that this squad was for real.
The low scoring total was due to excellent defense on both ends. But Jrue Holiday was still electric in the match, going off for a game-high 27 points including four closing free throws to put the game out of reach.
Elton Brand Owns The Knicks
Has to be my favorite Elton Brand performance of the season, and I don’t know if anything comes close. In early February, the Sixers squeaked out with a 100-98 win over the Knickerbockers. The game was highlighted by 16 Andre Iguodala assists, but more importantly, a 33 point and 18 rebound effort from Elton Brand.
What was so special about this game was how motivated Brand was to make a statement. He consistently attacked Amar’e Stoudemire at the rim and hustled for every rebound like it was his last. His eight fourth quarter points helped put the game away and Brand flashed the brilliance and youth he once possessed as a Los Angeles Clipper. EB’s energy on the night resembled how effective the big man could still be on a good night.
The Beautiful Month Of February
Aside from the All-Start break — where no Sixer was represented in the game — February is a vital month in the NBA for those trying to make a serious run for a playoff bid. Heading into the month, the Sixers had won 3 of 4 and here’s what ensued:
– A 9-3 record in the month of February. Best winning percentage (.750) in any month for the Sixers since February of 2003.
– Eclipsed the .500 mark (30-29) for the first time on February 27th with a win over Cleveland.
– Outscored opponents by an average of 8.3 points per game.
– Set a winning mark in three consecutive months for the first time since the 2000-01 season.
– Head coach Doug Collins was named Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for February.
Looking back on it, it’s safe to say that February was pretty remarkable.
Igoudala’s Back-to-Back Triple-Double Nights
As the team continued to shine into the month of March, Iguodala efficiently did something few could hardly muster. Producing a triple-double is hard enough as it is, yet AI9 was able to accomplish this feat for consecutive ball games. It happened in two victories against inferior opponents in the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors. Verse the T-Wovles he recorded 15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Against the West Coast foe he accumulated 22 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds.
The future with AI9 is bleak, as a recent report surfaced indicating his time in Philadelphia is ending. However, his tenure here will not be forgotten and he’ll be a valuable asset as a perimeter defender and third scoring option for a championship-caliber team down the road. Iguodala can do it all, but his lack of superstardom will never help elevate the Sixers to championship contenders.
Win Over Gang Green
The division rival that has haunted our players’ nightmares since the KG trade in 2007, caught their only L against us on the season thanks to a surprising 89-86 outcome in Mid-March. Spencer Hawes played well recording a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. The game moved the Sixers to 34-31 and was the ninth win in 11 contests. As the Celtics age, our young core of players will look to surpass our Atlantic division rival and battle the Knicks for the division crown.
Besting the Beast in the East
Following two dreadful losses, first in Miami where we held a 16 point lead and the second at home vs. pitiful Sacramento, no one expected us to hit the road against the Eastern Conference leading Bulls and steal a win. Even Vegas had us at 10 point underdogs. Surprisingly though, despite 31 points from Derrick Rose, our 76ers controlled the tempo and walked away with a 97-85 edge.
Thaddeus Young contributed with 21 points off the bench shooting 10 of 16 from the two-point range. His counterpart on the bench, Lou Williams, played stellar scoring 10 points, dishing seven dimes and collecting seven boards.
On nights when Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday and Elton Brand couldn’t score, Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young had to make up the slack to render the 7-6 any chance at competing. They were both so effective, that Thad and Lou-Will finished first and fourth amongst NBA reserves in total rebounds, assists and points. Thanks to their contributions, the Sixers bench ranked third in the entire NBA scoring an average of 39.2 points per game.
Most young teams would’ve quit, not the Sixers though. Trailing 3-0 to the Miami Heat in the postseason bout, our young guys fought for their playoff lives at the Wells-Fargo Center for a chance to extend the series. It was clear from day one of the series that we were outmatched, a sweep seemed destined. But down 82-76 in the closing 90 seconds and facing elimination, excitement shook the Wells-Fargo Center. Here is what occurred:
-1:22 – Rookie Evan Turner hits a challenging baseline floater. 82-78 Heat.
-0:58 – Mario Chalmers miss.
-0:46 – Jrue Holiday nails a three-pointer right in Dwyane Wade’s eyes. 82-81 Heat.
-0:27 – Dwyane Wade Miss
-0:08 – Lou Williams demands the ball, pulls up for a three-pointer from the top of the key and delivers as the raucous crowd erupts. 84-82 Sixers.
After a media-ridiculed LeBron James miss, Evan Turner nailed some free throws and the game was finished. Six points down and we were dead, but thanks to a run from our inexperienced cast, the shot by Lou Williams will be instilled in Sixers’ fans brains for a long time.