For the first time since the Eddie Jordan led roster was 2-1, the Sixers have more wins than losses. For the first time since the beginning of February 2010, the Sixers have won 4 straight games. And for the second time this season, the Sixers escaped with a victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers (although they've also lost 2).
The Cavs were as hot as a bad team could be. They won 3 of their previous 5 games, including two over the Lakers and new Knicks. After their 26 game losing streak, 3 out of 5 must have had their confidence riding at a level not seen in months. The Sixers came in to Cleveland and were narrowly able to escape, knocking the Cavs confidence level down a notch.
The Sixers came out very flat playing little to no interior defense and failing to capitalize on 12 of their first 15 shot attempts. Doug Collins did not hesitate to go to the bench which supplied the necessary spark allowing the Sixers to get back within one by the end of the quarter.
Louis Williams got the run going as he connected 2 three-balls and a take to the bucket all within 4 possessions. Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner were also invited to the first half bench dominance party. It's very exclusive and requires you wear a top hat.
Turner gave a first half performance reminiscent of his play at The Ohio State University. He was breaking his defender down and utilizing takes to the basket and step-back, pull-up jumpers on his way to 8 first half points (4-6). Even more impressive to me, he was calling for the ball and taking matter into his own hands to get points on the board for the Sixers. He ran a beautiful pick and roll with Young in which he recognized the switch and gave an on-the-money pass to a streaking Thad for an easy two points.
Thad's first half picked up right where he left off against Detroit. He was getting the ball at the basket and showing off that crafty footwork for easy baskets and almost perfect rate. Play like this from Thad has even raised the question with some commenters about what they might now be willing to give Thad in the offseason to have him stay. Other than the new CBA, that could be the most pressing issue with the Sixers this offseason.
If the first half was a tale of the bench, the second half belonged to the newly Marc Zumoff dubbed "J-Team". Jrue Holiday and Jodie Meeks were not exactly the world's best scorers in the first half with a combined point total equal to mine. Jodie, however, came out in the second half gunning. The first play was run for him and he took the ball to the elbow and hit a nice little pull-up jumper. Not long after, Jodie nabbed a steal and took it all the way home for 2 and drilled a three-pointer moments later.
Not to be left out, Jrue made his way to the party in the third quarter as well. After going 0-4 in the first half, Jrue connected on 4 of his next 5 field goals. Thanks to the scoring efforts of this "J-Team," the Sixers were able to broaden the point differential to 15 points. With the way the Sixers have been playing as of late, one probably thought this spelled for game over. The Cavs had other plans.
More poor interior defense and shot selection from the Sixers allowed the Cavs to cut the lead to 3 with under a minute left. Young's excellent defense on J.J. Hickson led to a steal and Jrue drained the two free throws. Up 5, under 30 seconds. Game over. Right? Well, Daniel Gibson decided he'd make it more interesting by hitting a contested three-ball. Andre Iguodala immediately gave the ball to Jodie who got fouled, dropped both free throws, and clinched the game.
The Sixers narrowly escaped Cleveland with a win against the NBA's worst. Early in the season, they would have lost this game without a doubt. I'm convinced that the exquisite defensive play from Young would have otherwise resulted in some sort of 4-point play where Thad would reach in while Hickson was raising for a shot attempt. Not this time though.
And since the Oscar's are going on right now (to give you some insight into when I'm writing this, Melissa Leo just won for Best Supporting Actress - good call Mike), we've got the "J-Team" here to give their over .500 acceptance speech. Hit the jump to see what they have to say.
This is completely fake and I'm pretty sure was Inception'd into my mind. Also, as you're reading this remember, Mike's the pro script writer, not me.
Jrue and Jodie: J-Team! Assemble!
Jrue: Hey buds.
Jodie: Hey dudeskis.
Jrue: Don't say dudeskis.
Jodie: Whatever Jrue. You're just upset that I rocked you in Just Dance 2. I will destroy anyone in "Hey Ya" all day every day and that will never change.
Jrue: I guess I'll be the bigger man and get to the point here. I just wanted you all to know how great it feels to be above .500. First off, I'd like to thank my mom who thinks I'm a sweet boy (she told this to Jamie Maggio last year. And yes, I am speaking through parentheses), and who could argue with that? Secondly, I'm throwing a shout-out to my main man Michael Levin who couldn't watch tonight because he had a 6-month anniversary dinner to attend. Whoever it is, that girl sure is a lucky one and I bet she went to high school with a really good-looking kid who played on the basketball team.
Jodie: Alright Jrue we get it, you have a crush on Mike's girlfriend. That has nothing to do with us finally being over .500.
Jrue: IT HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH...
Jodie: Enough Jrue! Since you're getting cut off, I guess I'll throw out my thanks now. Um, first off I've got thank our coach Doug Collins. He had me inactive to start the year but when Dre went down, I had to step in. I'm the only real serious catch and shoot three-point threat on this team so he inserted me into the starting line-up. It's my first time regularly starting basketball games since I was a Kentucky Wildcat, ripping off Tennessee for 54 points.
Jrue: Geez, what else do you want to brag about?
Jodie: My awesome nicknames?
Jrue: Who won the Dong for best nickname? O that's right. Me.
Jodie: Yea but you had to get on camera at the Draft Lottery to even get nominated. I've got so many great nicknames that not even Chris Berman can keep up. Jodiac Killer? Modie Jeeks? Meekster? M33KS? Freak-A-Meek?
Jrue: Don't care. Um Jodie, the teleprompter thingy is telling us to wrap up now. Any last words?
Jodie: Actually, I'd love to get a Might Ducks-esque "Quack" chant going.
Jrue: Talk to the Legend. He'll take care of you. Well I guess if that's everything, for Jodie Meeks, I'm Jrue Holiday...
Jrue and Jodie: and we're the "J-Team"!
Darius Songaila: And I'm Dongaila!