Sweeping a home-and-home back-to-back against any NBA team is an impressive feat, and the Sixers pulled it off against what is undoubtedly the worst team in the league. The Washington Wizards kowtowed to the Sixers swarming defense, shooting 3-14 from long range and turning the ball over 18 times, on their way to a 103-90 not-as-close-as-the-score-looks loss at the hands of the 9-3 Philadelphia 76ers.
Washington managed to shoot a respectable 43% against a Sixers defense that has been holding opponents to a league low 39.8% from the field. When you take away the trio of Young/Wall/McGee, the rest of the Wiz Kids shot 10-39. The rotations were great, especially on outside shooters Nick Young, Rashard Lewis, and Jordan Crawford, who went just 3-11 from deep. The Sixers pulled away in the 2nd and kept the Squibs at arms length for the rest of the evening, turning the ball over just 7 times. No surprise they won again but man, 9-3 is really impressive.
Check out Bullets Forever for their fear and loathing recap of the night's "action" and click below the fold for additional recapitulating of tonight's sleepy affair.
Andre Iguodala - Still the forgotten best player on the Sixers, Dre has been the rock of this well-balanced machine through 12 games. Tonight, he put his newfound scoring ability on display in D.C., downing 9 of 16 shots on his way to 23 for the night. He continued his impressive midrange shooting by going 4-6 on jumpers inside the arc. Long two's are unsustainably the worst, but his three's weren't falling (1-5) so he took a few steps in and knocked down shots at a high clip. With 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals (compared to 2 turnovers), Andre was his usual self on the night. He didn't do his best job defending Nick Young (27 points on 22 shots) but all but two of those shots were (mostly contested) jump shots and NY hits more blanketed shots than anybody I've ever seen. I know I've said it before but it bears repeating: there is zero chance Iguodala gets traded this season. None.
Louis Williams - Usually, it's a toss-up as to which Boss we'll see: Good Boss or Bad Boss. Tonight was all Good Boss, efficient and smart. With 24 points on 12 shots, he outscored the Wizards bench by 9 on his own, and was second behind only Iguodala in defensive rebounds with 5. Despite my contention that he's too much of a liability elsewhere and is a luxury on a good team, there really isn't any argument that Lou has been terrific so far this season. Behind only Spencer Hawes in PER and WS/48 (Nikola Vucevic doesn't qualify), the team is currently constructed to get him a lot of shots in a short period of time (usage rate still holding strong at 27.5%!) and thus far, he's been making them. His defense is the worst among the regulars but since they've been so good as a team, his inefficiencies have thus far been masked successfully. Also, there's this heartstopping possibility per everywhere man, Michael Katz.
Doug Collins - How thrilled is he? No team in the league (save maybe the Knicks, for mixed goodness) has taken on their coach's personality more than the Sixers. This is his team and regardless of how they respond to him over the next few years, the second year is proving to be a great one for the coach who hadn't held a clipboard (allegedly) in 8 years.
Jodie Meeks - Shooters have bad nights. They are unavoidable. But the frequency with which Meeks has those good nights is such that he hasn't earned more than 15-20 minutes per game this season. It's been feast or famine through 12 games - in the 4 games where he scored in double figures, he's shooting 65.8% from the field and 60% from beyond the arc. In the 8 games he did not, he's screwballing his way to a pig-squelching 23.8% field goal percentage, making only 5 of his 24 three-point attempts. With his subpar defense, that's not consistent enough to merit playing as much as he is.
Jrue Holiday - Unfortunately, 2012 has yet to be kind to the Jruth. He's only had two really good games this season, and though his defense continues to improve, he's not yet a point guard that could lead the Sixers to a first round playoff win. While he didn't shoot any 3's tonight, he did go 3-11 on jumpers inside the arc, only getting to the line three times on the night. He did a solid job forcing John Wall to turn the ball over 8 times, though a lot of that was Wall trying to do too much with the ball. He's still a future franchise point guard, don't get it twisted, but right now, he's probably below league average for starting point guards and that won't get it done come playoff time.
Interior Defense - Javale McGee simply had his way with the Sixers inside tonight, tying a career high with 18 rebounds, 7 of which were on the offensive end. Allowing 17 offensive rebounds won't cut it against half-decent teams, and McGee is not even a half decent player and he scored 23 points on 13 shots against a limpy Hawes and increasingly old (he just keeps getting older!) Elton Brand. Collins even went to old frumpyface Tony Battie for 12 minutes of action where he pulled in 3 defensive rebounds and scored as many points as I did. The need for another big man has not subsided.
The Gentlemen of the Six have tomorrow off before they host the Too Exciting Milwaukee Bucks for an MLK Day Matinee on Monday. Nothing excites me quite like Drew Gooden. We'll see you then in your Martin Luther King outfit!