During the first three quarters I was convinced the Sixers were going to lose to the Celtics without Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett and Shaq. Luckily, a fourth quarter comeback led by Mo Speezy (15 points in the period), helped the Sixers avoid: starting the pre-season 0-4, a tremendously embarrassing loss, and "Ed-die Jor-dan!" chants.
It wasn't pretty, and it was far from encouraging, but that didn't stop me from popping an icy bottle of sparkling cider to celebrate the first win of 2010. Make the jump for a few observations.
- Jrue Holiday finished with a silky smooth line of 12 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. Don't let the numbers fool you. Jrue played poorly, as he has all pre-season. His biggest strength is normally his defense, but that wasn't the case tonight; he allowed Nate Robinson to blow by him on numerous occasions. He also shot 36% from the field, and failed to get to the free throw line.
- Evan Turner performed okay in the first half, but completely disappeared in the second. He wasn't bad besides the team-leading five turnovers; he just wasn't a factor.
- Our starting center, Elton Brand, played 27 minutes without recording a single rebound.
- Thaddeus Young showed a few encouraging signs, but played a sub-par game overall. Playing him at the four looks like a big mistake to me. He didn't rebound, and consistently got torched on the post by bigger, stronger players.
- Marresse Speights did what Marreese Speights does. He shot the ball a lot, didn't throw a single pass (unless I'm forgetting one), was mediocre – at best – on defense, but carried the team offensively in the fourth. 19 points on 10 shots is incredibly efficient, especially with the amount of jumpers he attempts. Another thing that won't show up in the box score is Speezy's conditioning. The explosiveness is back to it was his rookie season.
- Jason Kapono was on fire from downtown (4-4), and really helped spark the comeback by stretching the floor. Don't be surprised if Kapono vultures minutes from a youngster this season. I get the impression Collins wants to win, not develop.
- Lou Williams was extremely impressive tonight. He scored with ease, using only 6 shots to score 16 points and had 5 assists in 18 minutes. But the most impressive part of Lou's game was his defense. That's right, defense. Lou Williams played better all-around defense than I've ever seen from him.