Tonight the Sixers got back to their winning ways in a potential playoff preview with the Atlanta Hawks. Putting one in the win column felt good, but it's hard to be too enthused until we hear the full extent of Thaddeus Young's injury. More on that in a second.
Before we talk about Thad's injury, let's look at the game. Stop me when this sounds familiar. The Sixers jump out to a double-digit lead. The lead is cut to a one or two possession game, forcing DiLeo to take a timeout. During that timeout, we as fans, ask ourselves, "How did this happen?" We come up with two answers -- perimeter defense and defensive rebounding.
This is exactly what happened this evening.
If I were to write a script for the 2008-2009 Philadelphia 76ers, that's how the first 60 minutes would go. The final 30 minutes usually varies. It depends on a couple of things. Will DiLeo make the proper adjustments? Will the young Sixers maintain their composure? And will someone provide a spark?
Tonight, all three of those questions were answered "yes", and it's no surprise the Sixers came out on top.
Here's the scenario:
10:25 remaining in the fourth. The Hawks have just cut the lead to two at 77-75. Coach DiLeo calls a timeout. In comes Theophilus Ratliff.
From that point on, the Sixers outscored the Hawks by 11 points en route to a 13-point victory. Theophilus was all over the place. He was racking up "nitty-grittes", he was protecting the paint, he was rebounding, and he was preventing layups. He even threw in a vintage slam and a 12-foot jumper for good measure.
DiLeo made the adjustment, the young-in's kept their composure, Theo provided the spark, and the Sixers came out of the ball-game with a much needed victory.
Tonight's win was costly. Emerging star, and Sixers biggest offensive threat, Thad Young, went down in obvious pain ten minutes into the game. He went up to consist a Josh Smith floater and landed on Josh Smith's foot, severely twisting his ankle in the process. After watching the replay and seeing Thad grimace on the court, I was convinced his ankle was broken. He had to be carried off by Theo and Donyell, not putting any weight on the ankle whatsoever. A quarter or two later Dei Lynam broke the best possible news regarding the injury -- X-Rays were negative. Thad's scheduled for an MRI in the morning.
Even though X-Rays were negative, there's still a possibility he tore a ligament or two. At best he'll have a severely sprained ankle. The Sixers need to handle this injury very delicately. Rushing Thad back too quickly just for a chance to win a playoff series would not be the smartest thing to do. No playoff series is worth risking the future of the franchise for. I'll have more of an opinion on the whole situation when the diagnosis is official.
All in all, it was a very solid victory -- not great, but solid. I'd be much more excited if we didn't lose "Baby Legs" in the process.
Individual observations after the jump.
Andre Miller - Andre Miller had a typical Andre Miller game. He did nothing to stand out, but as we saw with "Stats of the Future", he does a ton of the things that go unnoticed to the naked eye or the box score. Andre seemed to be forcing some shots tonight after Thad went down, but nothing too detrimental to the team. My favorite thing I saw Andre Miller do tonight was when he told M16 where to be on defense. He is indeed, our floor general.
Bill Green - From now on W***** Green will be know as Bill Green. He looked like a completely different player tonight. He's another player in which my opinion slightly changed after tracking the new stats. Tonight he was taking high(er) percentage shots and making them. He was 7-9 from the floor and one of his misses was a 30-foot three at the end of the game. He also passed more than his evil twin W***** usually does. Bravo Bill, bravo.
Andre Iguodala - Another typical performance from an Andre. He best play was at the end of the third quarter when he grabbed a defensive rebound, took the ball coast-to-coast and made a tough lay-in. We here at LB like to call those plays, "Iguodalas".
Thaddeus Young - Thad was extremely aggressive in the nine minutes he played. We can only hope his injury isn't too severe. He was just now coming into his own.
Samuel Dalembert - He only took four shots, and limited himself to one turnover -- both good stats. The most telling number was zero, for the number of comments made in the game thread regarding how weak Sammy D is or how unintelligent he is.
Lou Williams - I still don't understand how Lou is shooting 38 percent on the season. Tonight he was 1-6, but found other ways to contribute. There was a stretch where he continuously got to the rim. He either drew the foul, dished it to a teammate, tallied some "half-assists", or missed a wide open layup only to allow M16 to follow with a slam. Good things happen when Lou penetrates.
M16 - I hate to speculate, but Speights must've been with a slumpbuster last night. He broke out of what seemed to be a month-long slump tonight and it couldn't have come at a better time. He's going to need to be the M16 of old and start dominating again with Thad's status up in the air. Marreese dropped 16 tonight which was the most he's scored since February 9th. Most importantly, he stopped settling for the outside jumper and started looking for his offense closer to the basket. I still don't like the fact that he only recorded three rebounds in 25 minutes. On the bright side, his defense was much improved tonight, and trust me, there was much to be improved on.
Reggie Evans - Reggie filled in nicely when Thad went down. Surprisingly, he looked more like Elton Brand than Reggie Evans on offense tonight. He scored 8 points on a couple very nice post moves. He also did "Reggie Evans" things. An interesting observation about Reggie Evans -- I think he plays much, much better when he's on the floor with Dalembert. They seem to work well together. Go figure.
Theophilus - I already discussed how big Theo was tonight. Energy. Blocked shots. Defense.
Royal Ivey - Incomplete.