NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 10: Spencer Hawes #0 of the Philadelphia 76ers attempts a shot in the first half against Jordan Williams #20 of the New Jersey Nets at Prudential Center on April 10, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
The shame of the Sixers 107-88 victory over the New Jersey Nets last night was that no matter which group you fall in, you're likely not satisfied with the win.
If you still believe in the Sixers ability to win a round or two in the playoffs, last nights demolition of the Nets couldn't have erased the doubt the previous 4 games set in your mind, and really the last month in a half.
If you're hoping the new starting lineup propels the team to better starts, being outscored 7-12 (and playing horrible offensively) and 9-11 to start the first and third quarter isn't erasing doubts.
If you're trying to regain the Atlantic Division, the Celtics surprising come from behind win over the Heat in South Beach, their second strong win over the Heat in the month of April, prevented the Sixers from gaining any ground.
If you're hoping for the Sixers to lose, either for the draft pick or to send the ownership group a message, the win showed the Sixers return to form against bad teams and saw them move 2 full games ahead of the idle Milwaukee Bucks, a bad sign for a Sixers team with a soft remaining schedule.
If you're hoping the Sixers will fall to the 8th seed so they can face the Bulls in the first round and avoid the Heat, then the Sixers win combined with the Knicks loss which catapulted the Sixers 1 game ahead of the Knicks and into the 7th spot creates some worry as the Sixers get closer and closer to a first round matchup with the Heat.
If your focus is on the development of Evan Turner, then his 1-4 shooting night in 19 minutes certainly wasn't what you're looking for.
And, if you're Orestes Meeks then, well, your boy is really struggling to make an open shot right now.
At the very least, it was nice to see the Sixers play good basketball again.
Neither of the two new starters had a particularly good game, with Jodie Meeks scored 5 points on 2-8 shooting and Nikola Vucevic chipped in 4 points and 8 rebounds on 2-5 from the field. Andre Iguodala had a team high 7 assists and Jrue Holiday did a nice job of scoring the basketball early while the team struggled, but none of the starters played particularly well.
This was really a night for the Night Shift, with newly appointed member Spencer Hawes leading the way. I'm not sure whether it was the fact that Jordan Williams was guarding him or extra motivation for being benched, but Hawes was on incredible. If his shot chart looked like this all the time, Hawes would have a spot in the teams future. Of the 7 shots Hawes made, 6 of them were in the paint and the other was a three pointer. Long two's? Not tonight.
Thaddeus Young and Louis Williams were similarly superb off the bench, adding 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists from Williams (on 5-8 from the field, 2-4 from three, 8-8 from the line) and 19 points and 8 rebounds (on 8-15 from the field) for Thad. The three bench players combined to go 15-18 from the field which, combined with a 4-4 showing from the line by Andre Iguodala gave the Sixers 23 free throws made. It was only the third time all year (all wins) that the Sixers have made at least 23 free throws, with the other two games being blowout wins against Washington and Cleveland earlier this year. The Sixers are averaging 103 points per game in those three games. Outside of Spencer Hawes' play, getting to the line was the clear story last night.
It's really hard to read too much into the game, as the Nets are exactly the type of team the Sixers should feast on, but with recent horrible losses to Washington and Toronto (along with numerous losses to good teams), just playing good basketball and taking care of a team was nice to see.
After the game, Doug Collins was positive about the feeling amongst the group tonight.
"I think we all had a good feeling tonight," Collins said. "It was just getting the guys smiling again, back to playing basketball, and get away from all the other nonsense. Which is it, and was, and always will be."
He also described how Spencer Hawes took the demotion.
"Spencer was not happy at shootaround, but [assistant coach] Jeff Capel is the best," Collins said. "He told Spencer 'go back to your room, act like a little child, tear up your room, give me the bill, and then be ready to play tonight.'"
"Spencer texted him, he said 'I just went back to the room, trashed my room, busted up my tv, charged the room to you, but I'm ready to roll.'", Collins continued. "That's the stuff that these coaches bring, because that's a time for me, I don't want to talk to Spencer at that time. That's a time where you have somebody come in and step in and talk to him, and Spencer came back like I knew he would. Spencer is a damned good player."
Player of the game: Spencer Hawes
Next up: @Toronto, 7 PM, tonight.