Well, the silver lining is that these Sixers will finish no lower than .500 for the season. Bad news is that this game was far too close, especially against a lowly Raptors team without Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon. Thaddeus Young and Elton Brand carried the team for the second straight game, scoring 42 points on 29 shots. It's natural to be a little concerned about Collins' rotations -- only 7 players played meaningful minutes (Antonio Daniels played 3:30), none of which were , who had a career game against these Raptors in their last meeting.
We got some insight into Doug Collins' late game mentality without the services of Louis Williams. Andre Iguodala, as Doug said he would, had the ball in his hands up 3 with the shot clock winding down. He drove past to get all the way to the cup, but missed what wasn't exactly an easy layup -- but certainly a makeable shot. Toronto got the ball back with 6 seconds left and opted for a fadeaway three, which got absolutely none of the rim/net/backboard/basket apparatus. After hit a pair of free throws, the game was sealed in favor of the Sixers 98-93.
The Sixers took a 12 point lead into the half, but a patented third quarter collapse, which saw Bayless and DeRozan take over the world, cut the deficit to one going into the fourth. Reggie Evans anddominated the glass in the quarter, creating space for the young guards to attack the rim at will. But behind the savvy mid-range game of Brand, Philly kept Toronto at bay.
- and Jrue Holiday had difficult games on both ends of the court. Neither guy was even remotely effective in covering Bayless and DeRozan, which they both did for long stretches of the night. Shooting from the field was mostly miserable as well, but Jrue went 7-7 from the line including two big foul shots to close it out. Holiday also dished out 11 assists, the 15th time this year he's notched double figures. They'll both need to be hitting shots if there's even a slim chance of advancing to the second round.
- Brand and Young keep doing it. I wish they had more time off to rest, but they're killing it right now -- this team is a sinking ship without them.
- assembled himself a nice little game in 30 minutes of court time. He limited mistakes, made a few really nice post moves, and continues to earn the trust of Doug Collins. Andres Nocioni was inactive tonight because Toronto is a young athletic team that doesn't match well with Noce's abilities. ET is finishing strong and will be in the playoff rotation regardless of Lou's health.
- Jay Triano was ejected. That was fun.
- Miami and Boston both won tonight, so they are on pace to collide for a deciding game this Sunday in South Beach. New York won as well -- things are just as up in the air as ever with the regular season dwindling. Stay tuned.
Games against the Raptors are usually ugly and this one was just that. Thankfully the Sixers held them off and came away with their 41st win of the season, snapping a 3-game losing streak in the process. With a win over Orlando or Detroit on Monday and Wednesday, respectively, Doug's group will be the first Sixers team over .500 since the '04-05 team.
Good win. Happy Friday, peoples.