Green and Evans lead Sixers over Toronto
Posted by Ricky - Sixers4guidos on January 20, 2008
Reggie Evans (in the picture, looking actually a good offensive player…) and Willie Green were Sixers’ best players in a 99-95 win over Toronto, that marks the midseason term. Sixers are 16-25 (.390) and it looks that keeping this pace my 31 W prediction will be pretty correct.
The game wasn’t exactly memorable, both teams were in the second night of a back-to-back, Toronto was playing for the fourth time in five nights, Sixers for the fourth time in six.
Not suprisingly the start was slow, in the FIRST QUARTER Sixers shot 35% (6/17) with Andre Miller missing oll of his 5 attempts, and Toronto 35% (7/20). Our offense was just stagnant, we saw Dalembert shooting a three (!!), Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young launching two airballs. A wonderful baseline dunk by Jamario Moon was the best thing in those ugly 12 minutes (15-18).
The SECOND QUARTER quarter wasn’t exciting either, Joey Graham made a good contribution for the Raptors coming off the bench (8 points, 6/6 from the line) and Toronto kept posting us up with him and Moon playing versus smaller opponents. Sixers’ circulation continued to be poor, with few ball movement and many shots taken with the shot clock winding down, on one-on-one (forced) plays. Sixers were trailing 33-40 but used a nice 9-0 run capped by Iguodala’s there point play with 1 second left to end the half up two (42-40).
At HALFTIME Sixers shot 38% vs Toronto 36% (…), we were 1/6 from behind the arc, Raptors 3/7, we had a small edge under the boards (24-22) Our nicest stat was the free throw percentage: 11/12. Finally. Iguodala with 9 was our best scorer.
Sixers exploded in the THIRD QUARTER, started on a thunderous dunk by Iguodala. A red hot Willie Green led us with 10 points (two threes), Reggie Evans did a wonderful job under the boards, giving us key extra possessions, Sam also had 10 in the period, with a complete set of putbacks, tips and dunks. The lead raised from 12 (57-45, Green’s first three) to 15 (68-53, Willie’s second trey), to 20 (76-56, Iguodala at the buzzer, a shot that looked like another three but that was lately corrected into a long two). Sixers shot 16/23 in the period, while Toronto looked lost and hopeless.
Now you coult think that with a 20 point lead versus a visibly tired opponent the FOURTH QUARTER should be relaxing. Well, not with this team. Despite Thad’s three early field goals the Raptors kept playing hard, carried by an unlikely leader, Juan Dixon. The streaky shooter simply never missed (4/4 from three) and assisted Bosh to cut our lead to twelve (88-76, 5.49 to go). Toronto came even closer with Bosh taking the load offensively and with the score at 92-88 (=a 8-22 run…) in the last minute they had a chance to make things scaring after Miller missed a jumper.
Fortunately for us Anthony Parker misfired on an open three with 30 seconds left and we could close the game from the line, despite more dumb mistakes in the final moments (like Sam fouling Bosh and allowing a three point play with 10 seconds left or Andre Miller missing both free throws with 4 to go). The same Dalembert missed an open dunk earlier, a play that gave Toronto even more momentum during the comeback.
That’s why I can’t be too happy with the W, it showed we still have troubles: you know, it was the kind of win with a bitter taste at the end. The positives are:
1) our role players stepped up. Green (23 is his season high) and Evans got a lot of (deserved) bashing on this blog, but they played really well last night so let’s be fair and praise them this time.
2) Sam did a real good job on Bosh for most of the night, and with another double double he is continueing his progress in a very good season so far.
3) Iguodala played very well too, 6 assists and 5 steals are signs of a good effort on both ends
4) Thad “Young vet” had another solid game, despite a slow start
Can Iguodala please take a look at his feet when he’s around the arc? He had two “long two” shots because he was stepping the line… that means 4 points instead of a possible 6, not a little difference in the NBA — Guido/Andrea Bargnani had another meaningless game, with 3 points, 3 fouls and an awful “zero” in all other categories in 12 minutes of action — I followed him for a while and he’s simply too passive, he doesn’t move at all without the ball, he just stands around the three point line and he’s never in position for the rebound — I’m afraid all the criticisms he’s getting are deserved — Raptors shot 27/55 vs us in the previous three games, as Sixers4guidos reported, and 8/16 last night: that means 35/71, 49% in the 3-1 series…. one of the probles we still have to solve — Moon’s 17 points are a career high.
Sixers play Indiana on Monday. I hope I will have the time for a midseason report before that. Stay tuned on the first italian Sixers blog.