Win the ones you're supposed to win. To be successful in this league, that's the first step. Last night, the Sixers did just that. They used the first quarter to build a lead, then spent the rest of the night keeping Cleveland at arm's length until they delivered the fatal blow in the fourth. Exactly how you draw it up.
Player of The Game:
- I couldn't give him the player of the game because Thad played out of his mind tonight, but Spencer Hawes was excellent tonight. He wasn't forcing his shot (4/6 from the floor), he was dominant on the glass (12 boards, 11 defensive), he protected the rim (3 blocks) and he didn't turn the ball over a single time. If Hawes could play this role, to this effect, every night, the Sixers would be in very good shape.
- Thad Young played 28 minutes, hit 11 of 12 shots, scored 26 points, grabbed 11 rebounds. He also chipped in 2 steals and didn't turn the ball over a single time. Apparently Doug Collins' "electric fence" philosophy is working for Thad. Spectacular game, and whenever the Sixers needed a hoop all night, Thad was the one who supplied it.
- Tough shooting night for Iguodala and Jrue from the floor (5/26, combined), but they more than made up for it in other areas: 13/14 from the line, 11 boards, 14 assists, 3 steals, 1 block and only 3 turnovers between them.
- Lou's game is becoming more and more boring to me. It seems like whenever he's in the game, he dominates the ball and the offense grinds to a halt. Tonight, he was getting to the line and hitting 50% of his shots, so it was effective, but still. I just hate watching him dribble the air out of the ball and get into bad situations, looking for a bailout call or a difficult shot to drop. He did have a very nice assist to Thad on the break, though. He took the ball right at the defender, clearing the baseline for Thad to fill, then got him the ball at precisely the right time. Thad did the rest with the flush.
- Collins is inching closer and closer to a playoff rotation with this team. Tonight, in a 20-point win, he only used nine players, and Nocioni only saw the floor for one stretch in the first half. Speights and Battie never even entered the game. Iguodala, Jrue, Brand, Meeks, Hawes, Thad, Lou and Turner. That seems like the eight he's comfortable with right now, and when he's got a rested team, I expect them to see pretty much all of the minutes.
- Turner's time on the floor was essentially a waste tonight. He didn't play a single minute without Lou on the floor with him, and he rarely had the ball in his hands. He only took three shots, one of which he created for himself, and hit. Another was a bad jumper in transition from about 20 feet and the third was a wing mid-range shot created by penetration by Iguodala. He was short on it. At this point, I think Collins needs to make a decision. His stated reason for moving Turner out of the starting lineup was to put him in a situation where he could have the ball in his hands, so he could gain some confidence/feel more comfortable with the NBA game, then the transition to off-the-ball would be easier. That hasn't happened, at all. Instead, he's just been standing around watching Lou dribble the air out of the ball. If you're going to put the ball in the kid's hands, do it. Don't just pay lip service. And if you really want to give the kid a chance, maybe give him some minutes at the point with Meeks at the two, instead of Lou. Give Turner the benefit of a shooter to spread the floor, maybe that gives Turner more room to work. Either way, it's clear some kind of adjustment needs to be made. Turner is just wallowing right now.
- Meeks hit four big threes and didn't do much else. I'm not quite sure if he needs to do much else to be effective, I need to see more of the starting lineup with him in it.
- Brand was active if not super efficient. He only had five boards, but he got his hands on a ton of balls on the offensive end, keeping several possessions alive. He also put on a scoring clinic toward the end of the third quarter, helping the Sixers stretch their lead.
Thad. His scoring was tremendous, but 11 boards in 28 minutes - 9 on the defensive end - that's just stellar. Probably Thad's best game as a pro.
vs. Boston, on TNT, Thursday night.