Tomorrow is a big day for NBA players. Like Christmas Eve or the day before a new season of LOST, this day could be filled with nerves and maybe even excitement. The Knicks got the ball rolling on Tuesday, the Nets acquired Deron Williams out of thin air today, and apparently the Sixers' opponent have a deal in place as the game was in progress to ship off Kirk Hinrich to Atlanta. Waiting until tomorrow to possibly make a deal, the Sixers put their full efforts into tonight's game, scorching the lowly Washington Wizards 117-94.
The Sixers did not miss a beat since their last game before the all-star break. For a team that hasn't played in a week, the Sixers were as fluid on offense as anybody could have asked for. They were able to drop 117 points on 51% shooting, 8 three-pointers (17 attempts), and an astounding 29 free throws. If a team puts up those types of numbers and loses, they're probably the worst defensive team of all time.
Despite a poor performance in the first quarter, the Sixers were able to buckle down and play inspired defense the rest of the way. Rookie phenom John Wall may be an impossible cover for anybody in this league (he showed why tonight) so he clearly got his, but the rest of the Wizards were pretty much shut down (other than garbage time). The second and third quarter say the Wizards score just 18 and 15 points respectively. That combined total was still less than what the Sixers were able to put up in the third quarter alone and just 3 more than their second quarter. For those who aren't math majors, that means the Sixers point differential in quarters 2 and 3 was 31 points (64-33).
Much like their last game against the Rockets, the Sixers got stellar performances out of a bevy (not to be confused with Mike's nickname, Levy) of players throughout the night, the biggest coming from Thaddeus Young. On what could feasibly (but unlikely) be Thad's last game in a Sixer uniform, he accrued an impressive double-double with 18 points (on just 7 shots) and 10 rebounds. Thad was utilizing his superb footwork on the block and terrific athleticism in transition which the Wizards couldn't stop nor contain. Limited play from Javale McGee allowed Thad to grab 5 boards in each half as well.
The best part about Thad's performance was his exquisite rendition of "raising the roof" with Jrue Holiday. Here's evidence that it did indeed take place.
Some more individual observations after the jump.
- As usual, I like to make the first bullet point about Jrue Holiday. Jrue was scoring as efficient as one could ask for. He was hitting catch-and-shoot jumpers (2 three's), making smart off-the-ball cuts to the basket, and taking it to the cup himself. Jrue finished with 20 points (all-star!) in just 27 minutes. While that is all fine and dandy, I'm a little peeved that he's not able to be the initiator of the offense. Although Dre is doing a marvelous job at it, Jrue will be the one to take the reigns in the future. The inexcusable part is when Dre is out and Doug Collins gives Louis Williams the duty. Jrue was doing a fine job this year and I'd hoped to see it continue after the all-star break. I guess you can't always get what you want.
- Andre Iguodala didn't put up phenomenal numbers but did just what needed to be done. He played the same defense we've seen all year, which is outstanding. He showed off his court vision throughout the night as well. Specifically, he found a streaking Jrue for a wide open lay-in and also through an on-the-money full court pass to Spencer Hawes, landing the assists on both. Unlike the past couple games, Dre was able to sink some jump shots. Oddly enough, every basket he hit tonight was a three-pointer (3-5 on the night from downtown). Not a great game, not a bad game. I'd call it a "just enough" game.
- Evan Turner had a very impressive statline totaling 15 points and 8 rebounds. 9 of these points came in the fourth quarter when the outcome was already decided and while some may not take anything out of it, I'll give you a reason why you could. During that time, Turner was given the ball and reprised the role he held at Ohio State. Turner was getting the ball and breaking his defender down. Whether it was taking it to the basket or pulling up off the dribble, Turner caused confusion for his defender on many possessions. He looked absurdly confident and it was great to see this type of play out him, albeit in a blowout.
- Marreese Speights had an above average outing. Without any first quarter minutes, Speezy grabbed 5 first half rebounds. Without a doubt his favorite part of his stat line, Marreese dropped a three-pointer at the end of the shot clock during a 4th quarter possession. We all know how much he loves to shoot his jumpers and when he was forced to shoot that 3, I could only imagine how much he was licking his chops.
- At the end of the first quarter, Lou had the greatest BOSS-ISO ever. He dribbled down the clock, attempted a pump-fake on John Wall which didn't work at all, and traveled out of sheer astonishment.
- Andray Blatche's name on his jersey was spelled "Baltche".
- The Sixers have won 11 of their last 14 games and play 6 of their next 8 at home.
Player of the Game: Thaddeus Young
Next Up: At home Friday against Will Bynum and the Detroit Pistons