On the night when Allen Iverson made his debut in light blue, the Sixers played probably their most complete game of the season in Boston, ending their losing streak at 12. The final was 98-83, and the Sixers controlled the game pretty much wire to wire.
For the past five seasons I've uttered the phrase, "Jesus, the Sixers are going to lose this game," countless times. Tonight, the phrase was, "Jesus, the Sixers are going to win this game." Right up until the the final buzzer sounded I was despondent. Then, after the Sixers had finally secured their elusive sixth win, I was overcome with another feeling, shame. When I saw the celebration and the pure joy on the faces of Andre Iguodala, Kyle Korver and Willie Green I felt ashamed that I'd been actively rooting against them.
I came to my senses a few minutes later and realized that this Sixers' season is a win/win proposition for me. If the Sixers lose, which let's face, they are going to do plenty of, they are taking one step closer to Greg Oden. If they win, well then my favorite team pulled one out. Fear not dedicated reader, Project Lottery lives on.
Several Sixers made strong bids for player of the game: Kevin Ollie had 14 points, 8 assists and 6 boards; Dalembert had 14 points, 12 boards and 3 blocks; Louis Williams only played 10 minutes but finished with 6 assists. But the award has to go Andre Iguodala, a career-high 31 points on 11 of 15 from the field with 9 assists and 4 boards. Iguodala took the game over in the fourth quarter, he's emerging as a true threat on the offensive side of the ball and still playing excellent defense.
Andre Miller didn't make it out of Denver in time to join the Sixers, he'll make his debut in Philly tomorrow night against the resurgent Knicks. Before you get ahead of yourself, be aware that the Sixers beat a heavily depleted Boston team tonight. Paul Pierce and Wally Szczerbiak both sat out with injuries. Chris Webber continued his disappearing act, and I'm starting to think he's going to take the rest of the season off. For all you Celtics fans out there, this game did prove one thing, our young players are better than your young players, so choke on that.
A quick thought on the Denver side of this deal, beyond the Melo/Iverson relationship: The Nuggets are going to have severe match up problems when Earl Boykins and Iverson are on the floor together. One of them is going to have to guard the opposing team's shooting guard, and they're both going to be giving away six inches on some nights to the guys they're defending. Now that Denver doesn't have Andre Miller to run the point, Boykins' minutes are going to have to go up, so this team has gotten a lot worse defensively. That's usually not a formula for playoff success.
Bill Simmons lashed out against the Sixers for the Iverson deal. Usually, I think he's on point with his columns, this time I think he's way off. He basically says the Sixers didn't get enough for Iverson because Billy King is a horrible judge of talent and he's just going to waste the two number 1 picks in next year's draft. I agree that King has been a bad evaluator in previous drafts, but what did you expect him to do? He had to get picks, the draft is the only way to rebuild this team. Having three picks in the first round gives the Sixers so much flexibility. If their lottery pick doesn't wind up being the top pick they can use the other two to move up. Not to mention, there's no guarantee he's going to be the one making the picks. Simmons said the Sixers got 35 cents on the dollar in this trade. That may be accurate, because I think Iverson is the best player in the game, but of all the deals rumored to be out there, this one was by far the best. I never wanted Iverson to leave, but I have to admit that I'm more optimistic about the next five years in Philly now than I was before it happened.
Willie Green and Kyle Korver celebrate the Sixers' sixth win of the season with a man hug.