On Saturday night, Derrick Rose appeared in his first playoff game since April 28, 2012 — the fateful afternoon in which the youngest MVP in NBA history shred his ACL in the waning minutes of Game 1 against the Philadelphia 76ers. Among other NBA players this weekend also making returns to the postseason for the first time since 2012: former Sixers Jrue Holiday, Spencer Hawes, and Thaddeus Young. Holiday and the New Orleans Pelicans are coincidentally facing the Golden State Warriors and another former 2011-12 Sixer in Andre Iguodala. And Evan Turner returns to the postseason for the second time with a third different team, the Celtics.
Holiday played 21 minutes off the bench for New Orleans on Saturday afternoon, as he's still not recovered fully from a leg injury. The Pelicans repeatedly fouled Iguodala down the stretch of Game 1, as Iguodala, who shot an abysmal 59.6 percent as a guard/forward from the foul line this season, was by far the worst Golden State free throw shooter on the court.
Turner posted 12 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in the Boston Celtics' loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, however he boasted a plus-minus of -18 on the afternoon. Young needed 16 shots to score 15 points for the Brooklyn Nets. Hawes played just three minutes for the Clippers late last night, as he's been dreadful for them all season.
The members of that 2011-12 Sixers team are on record believing that, if the front office kept that core together, the group could truly compete for the conference crown in today's East. Seeing that squad's most important contributors scattered across the NBA as mere role players points exactly to the contrary. It's another refreshing reminder of positive direction the organization has shifted towards, avoiding dreaded mediocrity for a chance at legitimate, perennial title contention.
We have no idea if Sam Hinkie's controversial rebuild will result in a championship. We have no idea if Joel Embiid will become a superstar. We have no idea what will become of the team's 30 draft picks over the next two seasons. What we do know is this ownership group, front office and coaching staff will not settle for mediocrity.
And that's extremely comforting to have in the back of your mind when watching the No. 7 and No. 8 Eastern Conference teams being swept away this coming week.