It's good to know the stretch of seven games against top-notch opponents didn't make the Sixers forget how to treat a bad team. Last night, the Sixers manhandled the Cavs and put another lopsided win on the board. (
Here's your rotation chart. I highlighted a couple of rotations, but take a close look at the first half units, the key to player of the game lies in there:
This game was exactly what the doctor ordered on the second night of a back-to-back coming off a tough loss in which Doug Collins had to lean heavily on his best players. Getting this win was important for a number of reasons, but getting it while being able to use Andre Iguodala for only 25 minutes and Elton Brand for only 26 is huge. Give a ton of credit to the bench, who scored 50 points on 20/40 from the floor. They came on early and really did a great job. I'm pretty sure those four guys plus Lavoy could've won this game on their own.
Collins switched up his starting lineup a bit. Vucevic took a seat in favor of Lavoy Allen, and it seemed as though they switched bodies as well. The Voose was productive off the bench while Lavoy did next to nothing as a starter. I suppose as long as one of them gives you something you can't complain. Spence didn't even travel with the team.
The Sixers did a superb job of taking care of the ball, again, but more importantly they were aggressive within their offense tonight and it all started with Jrue. They attacked the rim relentlessly and the aggression resulted in 30 trips to the line. Jrue went the stripe 8 times (converting on 7 of them). In his last two games, Jrue has gone to the line 14 times total. Over the 11 games previous to the Clippers game he got there 14 times. If we need anything to convert into a trend, it's that number. Jrue needs to get to the line, he needs to keep attacking the rim. If he can get there like this, so many doors will open up for this team. I hope he, and the coaches, realize this.
Overall, it was a solid team win. The defense was spectacular most of the night (save for some defense played on Sessions in the first half, mostly by Lou). The Cavs grabbed too many offensive boards, an area which remains a problem. On offense, I haven't been able to check the advanced box score, but I'd bet they took fewer long twos than they normally do. It boils down to this, I know some people can only focus on the close losses to the better teams, like the Clips on Friday night. It's easy to see those losses and say the Sixers won't be able to win in the playoffs, that they can't close those games out. But here's the reality. Games like last night's game against the Cavs mean a whole lot. If you want the Sixers to have a chance in the playoffs, they need to get as many wins as possible in the regular season so they can get home court advantage for at least the first round, maybe the second as well. Taking care of business against the bad teams may not tell you how they're going to play against the better teams in the second season, but these wins will give them a better shot, maybe even an advantage when the playoffs start.
Player of The Game:
Jrue. He had easily his best game of the season. He was smart with his attacks, he was super-efficient and he took great care of the ball. 6/13 from the floor, 1/3 from three, 7/8 from the line with 4 boards, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 block and zero turnovers. He also had at least three great looks that turned into foul shots for the recipients. His assist total could've easily hit double-digits. Thad and Lou both had great games off the bench, and had a huge impact on the game, but the thing that put Jrue over the top for POTG was his play in the first half. With Jrue on the floor in the first and second quarters, the Sixers were +24. With him on the bench, they were -7, and the difference was a direct result of his play on both ends of the floor.
@ Charlotte, on Monday
A couple turnover-related notes: Lou was really great tonight, and right in the mix for POTG. He finished with 5 assists and 0 turnovers. Doing the math in my head, that means the two guys who played the point combined for 10 dimes with 0 turnovers. Not bad. Also, even with his five turnovers against the Clippers on Friday night, Jrue is on an amazing tear. Over his last 8 games he has 45 assists to only 11 turnovers.