This game was the turning point in the 2008-2009 season. People tend to forget how disappointing the first 35 games were. The Sixers were coming off a year were they forced the Pistons to play a much tougher first round series than anyone anticipated, and proceeded to shell out over 100 million dollars the following off-season.
All the team was missing was a go-to scorer and a low-post threat. Along comes Elton Brand, and all of a sudden the Sixers are the sexy sleeper in the Eastern Conference. After all, Brand was the guy who helped lead the Clippers -- yes those Clippers -- to the Western Conference semifinals.
Even I was buying into the hype. Weeks before the season I went on record saying the Sixers would finish 50-32, so you can understand how devastated I was when Elton Brand dislocated his shoulder, Andre Iguodala grossly underperformed, and the Sixers sat at 16-20 nearly halfway through the season. Not only were they 16-20, but they had looked awful in doing so -- extremely awful.
Then they played this game, and the season did a complete 180.
Make the jump.
#9: The Turning Point
I remember watching the conclusion of this game and thinking, "The 2008-2009 Sixers have officially arrived."
The Sixers were playing a red-hot Hawks team in Atlanta. At this point in the season, the Hawks had an impressive 22-13 record, and an even more impressive 15-3 record at home. Although the Sixers were riding a 3-game winning streak of their own, the previous three wins were very uninspiring.
Not only did the Sixers beat the Hawks in Atlanta, but they out-played them in every sense of the game. The proverbial switch had been flipped, leading to a "very happy Sixers blogger".
Ladies and Gentlemen, I just witnessed the best Sixers game I've watched all season. They went into Atlanta, which isn't an easy place to win these days, and out-played and out-hustled the Hawks en route to a 15-point victory. This was our first blowout win without Elton Brand and it was just magical to watch. Great win, plus entertaining basketball equals a very happy Sixers blogger.
From January 11 on, the season was much more entertaining, competitive, and satisfying. Andre Iguodala eventually took the "next step" we all expected, and it all started with this game.
Here are the highlights: