Two ways to look at tonight's win over the Nets: (1) They didn't play their best ball, by any means, but they were still able to scratch out a win on the road. (2) This was not quality basketball by any means, and an effort like that is going to result in a loss against about 27 teams in the league. Pick your poison.
Player of The Game:
- If the Sixers had won 6 out of 8 on the back of this type of effort, I'd be screaming for Rod Thorn to tear the whole thing down and start from scratch louder than anyone. This game was a stinker, save for a stretch at the very beginning of the game and a quick spurt in the fourth to (seemingly) put the game away. The Sixers were never really in danger of losing this game, but really they didn't have to do too much to keep it that way. The Nets are complete mess. Forget about playing in Newark for two seasons, Carmelo Anthony would have to be insane to sign with this team considering the quality of players on the roster. He's surrounded by much more talent in Denver and he was never able to get that squad to the finals. This team may eek its way into the playoffs with a full season of Melo, but that's not even a guarantee. Lopez seems to regress each minute he's on the floor, and he's the only decent young piece on the team. Well, that's not technically true. Their best young piece would probably be headed to Denver in any trade that lands Melo in New Jersey.
- Speaking of Favors, I was very impressed. He's got a ton of work to do on the offensive end, but he's a physical presence out there and I love the way he attacks the glass and uses his frame and athleticism to block and challenge shots. I never thought he was going to get anywhere near the Turner jumper he blocked.
- Hawes got the player of the game, and he deserved it. What he doesn't deserve is columns written about how he might be the answer at the five for the Sixers. Tonight, he scored 19 points, almost entirely on jumpers. He also threw a couple of nice passes. He was still pretty bad on the glass, he still didn't get to the line a single time, and he's still useless inside of 10 feet. He's the player of the game because he hit those jumpers, and the Sixers needed someone to hit them. Don't get carried away, though. This wasn't a great game from Hawes. This wasn't even the best game he's played this season. He didn't play great defense against Brook Lopez, Lopez just seems intent on modeling his game after Hawes' for some unknown reason, these days.
- Jrue was a close second for the player of the game. 19 points on 5/11 from the floor, 2/3 from three and 7/7 from the line. He scored 9 of his 19 in the final quarter, and stopped a couple of Nets runs with big hoops. The turnovers were a killer though. 5 turnovers and only 5 assists is, well, it's a bad ratio. He cleaned it up in the second half, but this team can't afford careless play from Jrue against even mediocre teams.
- I was extremely disappointed in Elton Brand's play tonight. Humphries and Favors combined for 12 offensive rebounds, and most of that damage was done on Brand's watch. He shot the ball fine, but only 3 defensive rebounds in 38 minutes just isn't going to cut it.
- Turner was a nothing on the offensive end, again. But he did lead the team in defensive boards (6), and he was back to battling on the glass, which the team desperately needed tonight.
- Meeks had a rough shooting night, but did contribute on the glass and by handing out dimes, which is a reversal of the trend we've seen so far this season.
- Iguodala was off all night on the offensive end, and had a terrible turnover in the final minutes, but he played a great game on the defensive end, as usual.
- For me, the highlight of the night was an innocuous play in the second half. The Nets dumped the ball into the blocks to Brook Lopez with Elton Brand on him. Devin Harris was on the strong side, out beyond the three-point line. Jrue doubled down on Lopez, leaving Harris. Lopez quickly kicked it out to Harris and Jodie Meeks sprinted from the weak side, chasing Harris off the three-point line. Jrue rotated the Jodie's man, and the play was stalled. That absolutely never, ever happened for this team at any point in the past three seasons. Whenever the Sixers were in that situation, the result was inevitably a wide-open three. That's on the coach, I believe. He's drilled the fundamental principles of help defense into these guys and that was perfect execution.
vs. LAC, tomorrow night.