Sixers Wreck Wolves, Win Fifth Straight

That was a whooping.  I suppose there was some bitterness about losing to Minnesota last month in embarrassing fashion, but I'd attribute this to us being a *gasp* better team.  Despite the Timberwolves four game winning streak against teams like Dallas, Memphis, New York, and LAC, they showed their youth, inexperience, and lack of talent in a number of areas.  The Sixers, on the other hand, scored an incomprehensible 73 points in the first half, assisted by 60% shooting from the field tremendous ball movement early on (that fell off later). 

It's an unreasonable to expect this team to continue this torrid pace on the offensive end in the coming games.  It is not, however, unreasonable to believe that Allen Iverson's absence is one of the reasons for this winning streak.  Jrue Holiday, despite only averaging about 22 minutes as a starter during this winning streak, has brought the defense and control to the guard position that, along with Willie Green's impressive play of late, that Louis Williams and Iverson lacked.  He deserves more playing time but for whatever reason, hasn't gotten consistent minutes.  In his rookie season, Jrue hasn't put up crazy stats, but he's shown a lot of point guard ability that his skeptics (myself included) were skeptical about (I guess that's why we're skeptics). Iverson has at least at least one more game out tending to his daughter in the hospital, and while we all hope she gets well as soon as possible, it is clear that it helps both the present and the future for Jrue Holiday to start even when Allen gets back.

In terms of the game, there was some very impressive shooting tonight, tex.  To put things in perspective, only Marreese Speights and Primoz Brezec (both 0-2) shot under 50% from the field.  They also got to the line a good amount of times, converting 22 of 25 from the charity stripe, good for an 88% clip.  Hitting jump shots, working the ball around late in the clock, making the extra pass to find the open man...that's what the Sixers did tonight to stomp out the stigma T-Wolves.  Combine that with hhhhhhhhheeeeeeawwwwwwful rotations, quite possibly the worst rotating I've ever seen from a team, by the opposition, and it was basically a shootaround out there.  30 assists out of 46 baskets didn't hurt either.  Having the advantage in rebounding and ball control was key tonight, and the Sixers ran the table. 

Let's talk individual performances.  Starting with the main two guys, Elton Brand looked positively springy tonight and Iguodala was his usual overpaid self: 24 points on 50% shooting, 2-5 from the field, 4-5 from the line, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, a steal and a block.  Frankly, a waste of money.  They found each other a bunch of times this game, and when both of them are going well, we're a much better team.  Elton even had 3 assists!  Why Iguodala got 41 minutes in a game that wasn't closer than 17 points in the second half, I'll never know. 

Thaddeus Young and Lou both put in great efforts tonight off the bench, which is where their current skills are best suited.  Thad led the team in rebounding tonight with 8 (3 offensive), and got 15 efficient points, 4 steals, and 3 assists.  His jump shot really needs improvement though, and I think it's a matter of just putting the time in during the offseason to get it down.  It's a pretty stroke, and his arc looks solid to me, but he's not hitting the wide open three's that he needs to in order to become better offensive player.  Lou scored 16 points on only 6 shots, only the 5th time all season he scored in double digits with single digit attempts.  Another indicator of moving the ball well was his 7 assists to 1 turnover.  Hopefully teams will see that and believe he's a starting point guard then pull the trigger on a Iguodala-Brand-Williams deal.  Anyhow, nice bench play from Lou and Thad tonight.

Royal Ivey played 16 minutes.  And even though they were pretty good minutes, there's no reason in hell he should be out there over Holiday for more than maybe 5 minutes a night.  Maybe. Jason Smith got a shot out of nowhere and responded well, running around like a wild man and shooting 3-3 FG and 3-3 FT for 9 points in 7 minutes.  Against Ryan Hollins, he actually looked like he had some quickness advantage, which is frightfully embarrassing for Ryan Hollins.  Good for the less smooth J-Smoove, but I doubt this is going to become a trend.  I hope you got your Jason Smith fill tonight.

Marreese Speights didn't play until the last 3 minutes of the game.  He didn't look pleased about it.  But at least he got to run with Jason Kapono for 194 seconds, which seems like a victory to me.  He's logged over 18 minutes just once since December 19th.  If the message being sent is "play defense and rebound," I don't know if it's being heard yet.  But Mo better get his chickens in order because his ass and that bench are becoming mighty friendly. 

They'll take this 5 game win streak to Toronto tomorrow night, where they will begin the night in sole position of the 10th seed in the East, 4.5 games away from the uncoveted final playoff spot.  I have a feeling no one is getting traded nor fired.  I'm still not on the 38 win train yet.  Holding out hope for losses.  But ladies (ladies?) and gentlemen, it's not looking good.

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