Thank goodness. Unlike Friday, the Sixers were supposed to lose and actually lived up to our expectations. Despite the tortuous feelings I get from watching this team lately (with exception of Jrue), I had this gamed marked off as a much watch. And it had nothing to do with anybody on the Sixers or even that Kevin Ollie was returning to the Wachovia Center. The opportunity to watch Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green, Jimmy Harden, Eric Maynor, and Serge Ibaka-Sams (assuming they get married) is an activity no basketball fan should pass up. The outcome was exactly what I anticipated and I could not be happier.
The story for the Sixers this game was Andre Iguodala. This, children, is how he should model his game for the rest of his career. He wasn't forcing jumpers, he took the ball to the basket, he did the best he could on KD (and really, how well can one defend him?), he ran the break like we expect him to, and he got his teammates involved. The only thing missing was only 2 free throw attempts. Other than that part, Andre looked like he's starting to "get it." He attempted just two three pointers, both relatively uncontested, and was wet on each.
Not only was his all-around game fantastic, but he also threw down an emphatic dunk through traffic where he faked a behind-the-back pass and cupped the rock before finishing. Oh? What's that? There's more? Why yes thank you for asking. Andre and Jrue are developing common wavelength on the floor. Holiday found Iguodala multiple times on breaks, cuts, and flashes throughout the game that makes a Sixers fan only imagine of what could be in years to come (that is, of course, if Andre sticks around and isn't shipped off by management).
Speaking of Jrue, I was disappointed with the lack of the time we got to see him tonight. He's the one reason I can still muster up the excitement to watch this team on a nightly basis (with exception of tonight). Jrue got into foul trouble within the first 3 minutes of the game, returned later in the quarter, and immediately picked up his third foul. Jrue Holiday, meet the bench for the rest of the half. When Jrue was finally able to play in the thrid quarter, he promptly put on a display. He got into the lane, drew double teams, found open men, had clean and crisp passes, and got to the line. The one negative I took away from him in that quarter was that when he get into the lane, he fell into the habit of jumping and then passing. Although it didn't lead to any turnovers or tipped passes today, it will one day and by then I hope he'll figure it out.
Because Jrue had to leave early in the first half, Sixers fans got to see the savior of the franchise, Freak-A-Meek, for extended minutes. He got his behind handed to him by Russ Westbrook who drove by him every time he tried. Only problem for Westbrook is that he finishes as well as that chick on Xavier.
The midnight-snack king Marreese Speights was pretty average tonight. He didn't shoot well from the floor at all but got to the line 10 times, sinking 8. His defense was better than normal although he still tries to take charges too much and looks as confused as someone watching LOST on defending screen and rolls. Biggest surprise of the night: I actually witnessed Speights box somebody out!
Elton Brand's little jumper was cash tonight, especially in the first. In that quarter, he and Andre scored all but 6 points. He ended up with 22 points but his all-around game was not anything to write home about. The fact that the Thunder don't really play a 4 created problems for Brand on the defensive end leading to him being relatively non-existent.
Jason Kapono was back to his Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo crappy self.
Something happened in the second half that had absolutely nothing to do with the game but was one of the more interesting events of the night. Thaddeus Young was invited to call part of the game with Zumoff and Easy Ed and gave us a sense of how he feels about our current coach and his system.
"We're going back to how we used to be, you know, going back to an up-tempo team, playing great defense and getting out on the break."
When asked if the team has to re-dedicate themselves this offseason; "I think the dedication is there, and been talking amongst ourselves. We have a lot of dedication to ourselves and to this organization."
When asked why his year has been a subpar one: "I was trying to get acclimated with the new system. I wasn't familiar with the Princeton Offense coming in."
"Our scoring as a team is down and our defensive capabilities are down. We have to go in their and do the things that we know how to do instead of trying to work around certain things. If we keep going out there and playing how we know how to play, which is up tempo, we'll be fine."
Now this could be us fans reading into something that isn't there or Thad just shed some light on his feelings towards the system that was put in place this season. Either way, Thad should probably shut his mouth and work on improving his game.
At the end of the night, it was a nice loss. I would have liked to see more Jrue Holiday rather than the combination of Willie Green and Jodie Meeks but foul trouble is foul trouble (is it?). We picked up a game on the Pacers as they came back from a double-digit deficit to take care of the Kings so I guess we got that going for us. There's another opportunity tomorrow to gain ground in the lottery race as the Sixers head to Charlotte to tussle with MJ's Robertcats.
- Andre Iguodala left the game late in the fourth quarter and did not return. I expect he'll be back tomorrow but the smart thing to do is hang it up for the season; but the coveted minutes title is at stake (it might not be, I just made it up)
- Thad and Lou are not traveling with the team to Charlotte. If you were really hoping to see them play tomorrow, I send my deepest sympathies.
- Jrue Holiday's mother, in an interview with Jaime Maggio, claims Jrue is a "sweet boy."