And just like that, the entire season changes. No longer are the Sixers slumping to the lottery, but they sit 2.5 games ahead of the folding Bucks, seemingly secure in the final playoff slot in the East, a date with the Chicago Bulls written in dry-eraser on the white board! Oh, glorious day. Passionate...Intense...Proud! (game capsule) Wait, what? Two badly timed losses could knock them back into the lottery? Ah, nevermind.
Here's your rotation chart. Note the Jrue explosion in the third and the garbage time letdown by guys who have apparently missed the team bus for the past month:
In all seriousness, though, we did learn some important lessons from tonight's drubbing of the hapless Cavs: First, when one of the Sixers plays like an out-of-his-mind superstar against a terrible team on short rest, the Sixers can win. Of course, this happens in about 1 of every 15 games, and there are no tanking teams in the playoffs, but still. It's a lesson. Second, given a weak enough opponent, Spencer Hawes' terrible play can be overcome. Again, not exactly repeatable in the playoffs, but a key to beating bad teams under certain circumstances. Finally, Doug Collins is not a malfunctioning robot in a sweaty suit. Or at least he wasn't tonight.
Serious kudos to Doug for allowing Jrue to play the entire third quarter tonight and put the game away. This may seem like common sense, but on more than one occasion he's taken the hot hand out of the game to stick to his predetermined rotations. In fact, I'd say the odds were in favor of Jrue going to the bench before he hit his final two three-pointers of the third quarter. More kudos to Doug for completely burning out his rotation to the point where he was forced to use Lavoy Allen tonight. Lavoy out-performed both Hawes and Vucevic (which is an admittedly low bar).
The Sixers have the day off tomorrow, which I guess they've earned considering they "played" three games in the last three days. The Pacers loom on Saturday night.
Player of The Game: Jrue Holiday.
Team Record: 32-30
Up Next: @ Indy, Saturday night.