Sixers lose Thad, thank Theo, Willie & Reggie
Posted by Ricky - Sixers4guidos on April 1, 2009
And Marreese Speights, actually, but there was no room for another name in the title.
The 98-85 W over Atlanta (38-35, .521) was a costly one, because Thaddeus Young got injured and is going to stay out 2-3 weeks (= will miss the rest of the reg season and perhaps be back at a certain point during the playoffs).
With 2.15 remaining in the first quarter, Young landed on Josh Smith’s right foot, sprained his ankle and didn’t return. Today Sixers released an official statement to clarify his conditions.
A pretty serious injury for the forward, that was perhaps playing the best basketabll of his (young) career, and a tough break for the Sixers. The good thing is that we have a deep bench with lot of solutions, and many guys can/MUST step up in Thad’s absence.
They started doing it yesterday night.
And the thing I’d like to underline is that the role players had a key… role in the win over the Hawks. In this order:
1) THEO RATLIFF, coming up big in the fourth, when Sixers went on a 14-2 run to close the game (from 80-79 with 8.30 to play to 94-81 with 4 min left). “The rattler” had a dunk, a jumper (!), some boards, a block and a key steal on Pachulia, coming off a Hawks timeout, that led to a fastbreak dunk by Iguodala. Tremendous addition off the bench.
2) W-I-L-L-I-E G-R-E-E-N, providing consistent, timely scoring all night, coming off screens to knock down the elbow jumper, now officially his best weapon.
3) REGGIE EVANS, a warrior that went out for another of his 20 minute-fights, playing hard nosed defense (see the pic), going for every board, picking his opponent’s pocket, and even providing some extra-offense in the third (6 pts), with a couple of unlikely lefthanded layups/hooks.
4) MARREESE SPEIGHTS, finally coming out of his recent slump (4/17 in the last four games) with a nice series of crafted shots around the rim (hooks, layups) and mostly a couple of thunderous dunks in the fourth that woke Sixers up after Atlanta came close, too close.
While his three rebounds in 25 minutes of action aren’t exactly great, he did a lot of good things, and always at the right moment. His accuracy from the stripe (4/4) was also appreciated, in a night when Atlanta shot 100% (21/21) and Sixers needed all of their 22 free throws.
You see, I mentioned all these blue collar guys before our two best scorers (Iggy and Miller), because I think last night we won the game with the small things and the fighting attitude.
We were there for every loose ball, we got the offensive rebounds, we forced a lot of turnovers (Atlanta had seven in the first), we knocked down the free throws.
We played excellent defense on Hawks’ much feared guards. Johnson and Bibby combined for 0/10 in the first half (!!) and while it’s true they missed a lot of wide open shots that they usually make, it’s also true that we made them work hard to get their shots off.
Ivey played a sequence of great D on JJ in the third, forcing him to bad choices.
Atlanta basically was just Josh Smith, who missed his first shot and made the following THIRTEEN (!!!), including three from behind the arc, and some high flying dunks of his, in a pretty unbelievable streak against what-could-have-been-his-team. The 33 points are a season high for him, I guess he had something to prove, another time.
Too bad the rest of his team was really in an off night: Hawks didn’t score a field goald in the last 8.27 (making only six freebies), and the four starters not named Smith combined for a 9/31 that is telling a lot about their struggles. Remember I told you we match up well with Atlanta.
Hawks stayed in the game in the third “only” thanks to their 5/10 from three point land, because Sixers played better basketball, taking care of the ball and finding different men on offense.
Sixers held a sixteen point lead near the end of the second (49-33) and halfway in the third (64-48). Overall, a deserved, encouraging W.
I really wish we meet Atlanta in the playoffs. With Thad, possibly.
We have to continue like this, starting from tomorrow night’s game vs the Bucks, we need to sweep the series with Milwaukee and go on. Check the mighty Brew Hoop for coverage about the Bucks.