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Sixers Beat Clippers; Tough Road Ahead

Box Score

Clips Nation

Earlier today John Schuhmann of tweeted that the Sixers lineup of Holiday-Meeks-Iguodala-Brand-Hawes has been the best defensive lineup in the league, of lineups who've played a minimum of 100 minutes together. The aforementioned lineup – along with the rest of the Sixers – were once again fueled by their defense in a 14-point win over the league-worst Clippers. For the third consecutive game the Sixers held their opponent below 40% shooting. 

Over the last 9 games the Sixers have had a defensive efficiency over 106 once, compared to the previous 16 games, when they were over 106 10 times.

What's the reason for the improved defense? The improving health – hence improved play – from Andre Iguodala and Spencer Hawes, and the coaching of Doug Collins. Remember, this team was one of the worst defensive teams in the league last season (24th). Now they're in the top 10 – minus Sam Dalembert. Doug Collins deserves a lot of credit.


The most impressive stat from tonight's win was the three turnovers the Sixers had. Three turnovers! That's all-time low. Since 1986 teams have turned the ball over three times or less only 24 times. The Sixers were one turnover shy from tying the all-time low of two (since 1986).

After starting the season 3-13 the Sixers are 10-15, on a three-game winning streak, and have won seven of their past nine. In the seven wins they've outscored opponents by an average of 14 points, and they're +94 in the last nine. They're a monumental collapse in Atlanta and a KG alley-oop from owning a nifty nine-game winning streak.

However; only three teams the Sixers have faced in the last nine have records above .500, and two of the three were losses. Also, only two of those games were on the road, where they're 2-10 on the season. 

Over the next two and a half weeks we'll find out whether the last nine games is simply a case of an average team beating up on bad teams at home, or a legitimate playoff contender in-the-making. 

The Sixers' schedule is absolutely vicious the rest of the December. The next nine games are as follows: Lakers, @Magic, @Bulls, @Celtics, @Nuggets, @Warriors, @Suns, @Lakers, @Hornets – eight road games, seven against teams above .500, and three sets of back-to-backs. Any more than three wins would impressive.

The '07 and '08 Sixers had some huge road wins (most notably this one), and I think the way the Sixers perform against the contenders during the upcoming road trip is a good barometer of how far along they are. By the end of December we should know if the Sixers are playoff-bound or lottery-bound, and whether or not Andre Iguodala will be traded by February. 

Make the jump for a few game notes.
  • Spencer Hawes scored 16 points on 18 shots, grabbed 12 rebounds (7 defensive) and blocked 5 shots. Although Blake Griffin scored 20 points he took 16 shots – Spencer played solid defense when matched up against up. He blocked Blake Griffin's shot three times within the first two minutes. However; Spencer's breakout game in New Jersey (along with his new haircut) seems to have given him an abundance of confidence on offense – enough to take 18 shots tonight. I like how he can stretch the floor as a big man, but 18 shots is too many from Hawes. He only shot four free throws.
  • Jrue Holiday finished with a sparkling line of 24 points (on 20 shots), 6 rebounds, 5 assists and only 1 turnover.
  • Andre Iguodala played his best game of the season, scoring 20 points (on 10 shots), 4 rebounds, 4 assists and zero turnovers. He was a team-high +24 and closed the game down the stretch with defense, passing, jumpers, and dunks. I'd like to see Iguodala bottle up this performance and do it more consistently.
  • As I predicted in the game thread the a combination of Holiday, Meeks and Iguodala shut Eric Gordon down tonight. Gordon's averaging 25 points per game this season, three turnovers, and shooting 45%. Tonight he had 16 points on 6-18 from the floor, and turned the ball over five times.
  • Along with Hawes, Elton Brand played good defense on Griffin, and added 15 points. He wasn't very efficient on offense and was terrible on the defensive glass.
  • Lou Williams was 1-9 from the floor and easily the Sixers worst defender, yet played 21 minutes, compared to just nine for Evan Turner. I'd like to see Collins disperse some – or all – of Lou's minutes to Turner. It may improve the team; it may not, but it had little downside.
  • The Sixers were down 3 at half, but outscored the Clippers 52-35 in the second half.
Player of the Game: Andre Iguodala
Next Up: Lakers on Friday

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