The New Jersey Nets must've been salivating when they saw this particular back-to-back on their schedule as they try to limp into the playoffs: at home vs. Boston last night, at Philly tonight. They didn't have to travel too far, and they were playing the teams with the second-worst and third-worst records in the league, respectfully. They came out on fire, building a 24-7 lead in the blink of an eye. After that, the walls came crashing down. The Sixers won in a walk, 99-86. The Nets never got within double digits after about 3 minutes into the third quarter.
The Sixers clamped down on defense, and owned the boards for the final 36 minutes of the game, and they were playing with a passion rarely seen since Mo Cheeks came to Philly. All great signs for the future...sort of. The Sixers are 12-9 in their last 21 games, and 17-16 since Andre Miller and Joe Smith joined the team. They currently stand 6 games out of the 8th spot in the playoffs with the Nets, Magic, Knicks and Bobcats standing between them and complete disaster. If the Sixers find a way to squeak into the 8th spot in the East they lose their first round draft pick. (Billy King traded the rights to that draft pick a couple of years ago, but it's protected if it's a lottery pick). Meaning, going into what could be the deepest draft in recent history, in the midst of a drastic rebuilding process, they could have zero lottery picks (or maybe 1 if the Denver debacle continues on its current course).
It's a long shot to say the least, but the way the Sixers are playing right now, and the way the other teams listed above are playing (combined 17-23 over each team's last 10 games) it might be a good time for the Sixers to let one or two of these games get away from them.
Kyle Korver led the charge as the Sixers climbed their way out of the first-quarter hole, and he's your player of the game. He finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 3 blocks. Iguodala was Iguodala, 21 points, 6 boards, 5 assists, 5 steals. Miller punch the clock to the tune of another double-double (11pts, 12 assists) and Dalembert (11 rebounds) and Smith (10) controlled the glass. The Sixers will try to extend their season's-best 4 game winning streak to 5 against Seattle on Wednesday.
If you're jonesing for a Willie Green update, I've decided that words can't describe exactly how horrible "Garbage Time" is, so I'm going to use an image from now on...or at least an image with a few words. Check out the first installment of "Willie Watch" below.