"Project Lottery" is officially on life support. For the Sixers to lose 65 games, the magic number I came up with for them to secure the most ping pong balls in the Greg Oden/Kevin Durant lottery, they could only win 17 games all year. Tonight, they picked up their 17th win, 92-83 over the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Sixers have won 7 of their last 11 games, and there are a couple of reasons why. The main reason is Andre Iguodala. Iggy has averaged about 23 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 steals per game over that period. Even though it's a very limited sample, those are all star numbers. In fact, no one in the league is averaging numbers like that for the season. Iguodala is only the beginning of the story here, though. There's another huge reason for the resurgence of the Sixers, and as much as I hate to admit it, it's Mo Cheeks.
Cheeks hasn't changed his in-game decision making, that's still shaky. His timeout management is still horrible. But what he has done, is completely redefined his rotation, and it is working. Putting Stephen Hunter into the starting lineup at the 4 was the beginning of the transformation, and it's paid huge dividends. He's also planted Kevin Ollie and Allan Henderson deep on the bench. Neither is seeing more than garbage-time minutes at this point. Their spots in the rotation are being filled by Louis WIlliams, a 2nd year high-school draft pick, and Joe Smith (Not much younger than Henderson, but much more talented).
The final, and most crucial, adjustment Cheeks has made is to limit Willie Green's minutes. He's a black hole on offense, and Cheeks seems to have finally realized this. Since coming back Green has seen about 10 minutes per game, which is fine. Any more time and he gets too many shots up, and grinds the offense to a halt.
Basically the whole roster has raised its level of play over this 11-game stretch, but Rodney Carney's play stands out. He's taking better shots, playing better D, grabbing more rebounds and running the floor. The future is looking bright for the Sixers.
Tonight's player of the game is Rodney Carney, in 27 minutes he was 5-7 from the floor for 12 points, with 5 rebounds and a block. The numbers don't blow you away, but they do say that he's playing within himself, and his defense has been nothing short of excellent. An honorable mention goes to Samuel Dalembert. His shot was off, but he finished with 14 rebounds and 4 blocks.