There was absolutely nothing pretty about this game. The Sixers played a depleted, bad team, they let them hang around. They almost let them come back and win it. Almost is the key, though. They came out on top. When you look back at the team's overall record, this one counts just as much as the win in Chicago. It's only when you grade a game on the hope it gives you that this one will be found wanting.
Player of The Game:
- It's really quite remarkable when you think about the things that are going wrong for this team right now. Jrue's shot is suddenly not falling. Jodie has gone ice cold from three. Spencer Hawes has played like Spencer Hawes. Andre Iguodala has played like Spencer Hawes. Lou's hamstring injury. Really, only the play of Thad and Brand has kept them in the past couple losses and brought home the win tonight.
- The sad part about the current state of affairs is that there's really no cure. There's no magical substitution Collins can make. There's no play he can draw up on a whiteboard. Meeks is getting wide open looks, they aren't falling. Jrue is playing perhaps a little more erratically than you'd like, but he's not taking a ton of bad shots, they just aren't falling. Iguodala just isn't the same player, be it due to injury, a slump, fatigue or a combination of all three, he isn't close to being the elite defender he's been all year. He's still making some plays, but he's decidedly average right now. Lou Williams isn't going to suddenly heal and play on Monday night.
- Tonight, with the playoffs looming and his two "veterans" both banged up, Collins went with a seven-man rotation against a 21-58 team...because he had to. That does not bode well.
- Of course, while Iguodala's knee may not improve greatly, I seriously doubt Jodie and Jrue will continue to shoot like this. That's your silver lining. Think about it for a second. 5 of their 7 core players have either been absent or dreadful over the past four games. In that time, they're 1-3, but they really had a chance to win two of those losses. The results are the results, but if you take a step back and ponder the circumstance, it doesn't seem as if the team has lost any of the heart that's put them in this position. The hustle is still there. In fact, I thought they played some of their best defense of the season in parts of tonight's game.
- The question for the final two games is whether a couple of the lagging guys can pick it up and bring home a couple wins. That's really not of the utmost importance, though. What really matters is that they're back to normal, or as close as possible when the playoffs start. Because if they go up against Miami or Boston with only 2 of their 7-man rotation clicking, well, they're going to get swept. There's no doubt in my mind.
- One final note, I did think Jrue played a better overall offensive game tonight, he used his dribble well, he got to the line 7 times and he did a great job setting his teammates up. The 5 turnovers were way too many. It was good to see one of Jodie's threes finally drop, not so great to see him shoot 2/9 from downtown on the heels of an 0/8.
Elton Brand. 10/16, 8 boards, 22 points.
vs. ORL, Monday