It was a young boy's birthday (whose?) today and when his mother brought out the cake, she told him to make one wish as he blew out the candles. This wish had nothing to do with any member of his family not being able to tell a lie, but rather that Evan Turner would get a career high in points en route to a Sixer victory over the Boston Celtics. The boy blew out the candles like a pro (his candle-blowing efficiency [CBE] rating is off the charts) and his wish became fulfilled.
It was evident from the get-go that tonight was going to be the Sixers' night. It was absurdly refreshing to see the Sixers get off to a hot start, one in which they scored 18 of their first 20 points from inside the paint (!!!!!!!). The attacking effort was lead by none other than the story of this blowout, Mr. Evan Turner. The Kid ET was in full out attack mode on both ends of the floor. Although he missed his first two attempts from right at the rim, Turner didn't hesitate to get back to the rack. It was evident that Turner's confidence received a major boost after he hit a couple shots in a row, and it showed in his style of play. He was in full Ohio State mode towards the end of the first quarter and it carried over for the remainder of the contest.
Defensively, Turner was assigned with the task of guarding the Celtics' triple-double machine in Rajon Rondo. Turner did an absolutely fantastic job on Rondo who only collected just 3 points and 6 assists in the first half.
As always, Turner's rebounding prowess was on full display early and often, collecting 6 rebounds in the opening quarter. What excited me and many other Sixer fans about these rebounds is that Evan was getting out in transition off those Celtics misses. Against a team that doesn't allow many fast break buckets (10 points per game) in the Celtics, the Sixers, especially Turner and Andre Iguodala, collected 13 first-half transition points (but do they count?). The most memorable of these fast breaks came in the first quarter when Turner dribbled behind his back to avoid a Celtics defender and hit Iguodala for a beautiful alley-oop (watch it here!).
The Sixers used high-percentage shot attempts at the rim, transition buckets, and tantalizing defense to go up 16 after the first quarter, and they never looked back. The result of this game was never in doubt as Turner, Iguodala, Jrue Holiday, Elton Brand, and Nikola Vucevic all strung together solid performances en route to a 32 point win; the Celtics' worst loss of the season.
More Evan Turner love and other such wonderful things after the jump.
It was Turner's second start of the year and according to long-time Philadelphia sports radio personality Howard Eskin, that spot would remain his for the rest of the year. While some, including myself, were hesitant to believe much information came from him, it appears his sources were spot on. During his post-game press conference, Doug Collins flat-out stated that unless there's an injury, the starting lineup will have a Holiday-Turner-Iguodala backcourt for the remainder of the season. The question of who should start between Turner and Jodie Meeks was a topic that surfaced time and time again on this blog, and those who supported Turner all the way through got their wish. While they lose a guy who can spread the floor in Meeks, they gain a guy who can get to the basket and create plays, whether it be for himself or in setting up in teammates. And after a performance like tonight, it's hard to not get your hopes up about what this threesome can bring in the near future. What excites me most about this news is that we'll finally get to see Holiday and Turner get significant minutes on the court together. While they've been somewhat disappointing so far this year, these two are the future and apparently the future is inching closer.
While this was a game in which the Celtics were playing a second half of a back-to-back, one night after an overtime win against Houston, it was still a huge win for a Sixers team that hadn't beaten a team above .500 since their win against the Lakers in early February. In a matchup that could have seen the Sixers lose sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division, they rose to the occasion and got a much needed victory.
Other thoughts on this drudging:
- Elton Brand's swagger was on a hundred, thousand, trillion tonight. I'm aware that this element can't be measured by any statistic or formula, but it certainly existed in this game. Brand's mid-range game was back to the Elton of old and he even had a youthful spring in his step, most notably off a Turner miss in transition when EB came flying down the lane for a tip-slam. Elton was a cool 8-10 from the field and pulled down 9 rebounds of his own for good measure.
- The rook Nikola Vucevic was originally slated to start but when Thaddeus "AwkwardlySmooth" Young was ruled out because of an illness, Collins elected to go with 902 year-old Tony Battie in the starting lineup to allow Vuce to come off the bench. Battie, per usual, barely got any minutes while Vuce tallied himself his first double-double of his young NBA career. The play that most stood out to me was in the second half when Vuce pump faked, got JaJuan Johnson (so take this with a grain of salt) in the air, dribbled baseline and threw it down with his left. The kid has certainly produced far greater than I thought he would have. Hats off to you, Nikky boy.
- Jrue Holiday was quietly effective tonight. While he didn't get to the line at all and it took him 11 shots to collect his 10 points, he played tough defense on Ray Allen, nothing more evident than the first possession of the game when Jrue closed out on Allen and blocked his jumpshot attempt. Add in 3 steals and 6 dimes and it's a pretty good performance.
- "Super-duper-double-shhhhhhdonttellanybody-secret problems" though...
- I'm proud to announce that for the first time since their January 4th win in New Orleans, the Sixers won a game in which I wrote the recap for. It feels good.
In celebration of Evan's performance, let us all remember what site he claims is the best source for Sixers basketball insight...
Let's keep this exciting style of basketball going into Friday's game when slam dunk champion Jeremy Evans and the Utah Jazz come to town. For all you out-of-towners, it will be shown on NBATV which means you'll probably be rewarded with the Zumoff/Rose broadcast. See you then. GO SIXERS!
Did you guys figure out whose birthday I was referencing to? It's Jordan's! Give him a birthday dance!