Sixers shine in Phoenix. Wow !
Posted by Ricky - Sixers4guidos on March 2, 2008
After the biggest game of the season, a stunning 114-119 win in Phoenix that lifts us to a 27-33 record (.450), I think it’s time to take my hat off and apologize to many guys I criticized.
1) MAURICE CHEEKS. You got a lof of bashing here, but you are pulling a rabbit out of your ass, Mo, so I have to give you credit.
Seriously, EVERYBODY, and I mean, everybody, picked the Sixers to fight to avoid the last place in the Eastern conference before the season started.
I predicted 31 wins, but a lot of fans, experts, analysts, were more in the 24-26 W territory.
And after the Korver trade, things were apparently getting worse, we all thought that the new GM made that move to put us in tanking mode (I even HOPED it !) and start it all over next summer. Well, you had different ideas, and so did your players.
What this not-so-talented Sixers team is doing is simply amazing, and you are the biggest reason for its successes. I don’t care if we will not make it to the post season at the end, I love the guys’ spirit, the team attitude, how they fight every night, give 110% of themselves, with no selfishness, no complaining, no bitching.
Sixers are the worst three point shooting team in the league, have ZERO low post threats (a terrible combination for a coach, if you think about it), but still they are up there, fighting for a playoff spot. Yes, the Conference is weak, but I don’t care.
Cheeks realized that this team can score basically only running, put a 20 y/o, 6’8”, rookie SMALL forward (Young) in the starting line up at the “dangerous” POWER forward spot and this was decisive to spark an exciting offense, built on athleticism. Outcome = tons of fastbreak and transition points + lot of fun for Sixers fans. Even without the outside shooting.
2) WILLIE GREEN. By far the player I hate(d) the most, for more than a year. His selfishness, his low basketball IQ, his mistakes on both ends of the court in crunch time made me nuts countless times. Well, we have to talk about a stunning turnaround for the Detroit Mercy product now, and I am happy to say it.
He’s becoming a player you can count on, he cut the dumb decisions (forced/rushed shots, turnovers etc), started to share the ball and being clutch. Last night’s free throws (2/2 with 9 seconds to go, to put us up 4, 114-118) are just an example.
Green is putting career highs in points per game (13.3), minutes per game (28.1), field goal pct (45.4%), free throw pct (77.7% – he shot 80% in 2005/6 but playing only 10 games), rebounds (2.5) and assists (2 !).
In THIS Willie Green Sixers have a reliable offensive weapon, that can play some good defense when needed. We thought we had the new World B. Free (LOL), but maybe we have a younger Raja Bell.
3) REGGIE EVANS. Underlining his offensive limitations is like beating a dead horse. Well, still we all did it. But what he brings to the table every night is money for the Sixers. Rebounding, defense, steals and, in general, a “never-give-up”, hard nosed attitude that is an example for the young players.
Against the Suns Evans (6’8”) guarded Shaq (7’1”) and Stoudamire (6’11”) for long stretches and, guess what, he stole the ball from BOTH of them in two key possessions: on the last one Sixers won the game, and Evans came up with an evil smile (he pushed Amare from behind a little bit…).
The blue collar Evans is becoming a fan favorite in Philly, a town where hard workers like him are often beloved, and his bricks from the line (1/6 last night) are more than forgiven considering all the rest.
I could write a book about the Phoenix game, with all the runs, breaks, exciting plays, comebacks and uncompleted comebacks that I saw, but there is no need for it: read recaps and the play-by-play page.
I would rather repeat some points:
A) when Iguodala and Miller play like this, Sixers are a team tough to beat even for a title contender like the Suns. The taller Andre had his biggest game of the season. Terrific.
B) Thaddeus Young had an excellent game (this time off the bench, because Evans was put in the starting line up again, to guard Stoudamire), he was always active and showed no fear of Suns’ bigs.
C) Sam Dalembert had an awful night offensively, but still knocked down two key free throws with 34 seconds to go (107-113).
D) Lou Williams came up big in the final, with 11 of his 13 points in the fourth, including a big three pointer to put us up ten (101-111, 1.10 left). Remember this guy has to turn 22 yet…
Add that Sixers were playing on the second night of a back-to-back, and coming from the blowout loss in Oakland. You see, there are many reasons to be happy for.
SIXERS4GUIDOS BONUS STATS AND RANDOM THOUGHTS
Sixers shot 13/21 (62%) in the first quarter, Suns 6/22 (27%) – Diaw had a terrific second quarter (13 points, 6/7) and was the biggest reason for Suns’ comeback after their slow start – Iguodala connected on a three pointer frow way beyond halfcourt as time expired in the third – Sixers played in front of a sellout crowd of more than 18.000 Suns fans. I guess they weren’t happy at the end – Sixers’ record in the second game of a back-to-back is 11-1 !! – Sixers went on a 20-6 run to start the fourth (87-103, 4.52), using a weird, extra-small line up of Miller-Williams-Iguodala-Young-Evans !
It’s a unique chance to improve our record and our playoffs possibilities, hopefully we won’t waste it.