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A new Dwyane Wade poster. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)The overwhelming theme of the past couple of weeks for the Sixers has been depleted opponents. Seemingly every team they play is missing a key cog, and tonight was no different. The Miami Heat are about 3 days away from seeing Shawn Marion in their uniform, but tonight they had neither he, nor Shaq, nor Udonis Haslem. What I'm trying to say here is that the Sixers have missed a few opportunities. They've been extremely healthy for an NBA team (only Willie Green, Lou Williams and Kyle Korver early in the season have missed more than a game), and honestly I feel like they've left more than a few wins on the table.

That being said, you have to play the team you meet on that night. That's how sports work, and tonight the Sixers were up to the task of putting the last-place Miami Heat in their place 101-84.

Andre Iguodala led the way with a 20-point second half. He finished with 25 on 9/19 from the floor with 8 boards, 4 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks. Thad Young had a typical Thad game with 11 points on 5/8 from the floor with 7 boards, 2 dimes and 0 turnovers and more great D. Before we get into the rest of the team's performance, I want to highlight one particular play the Sixers pulled off early in the fourth quarter. This is indicative of the hustle the team shows, and not just one or two members, but the entire team.

Thad Young wound up on Dwyane Wade late in the shot clock up at the top of the key. He played great positional D, and forced Wade's drive down to the corner. He didn't bite on a pump-fake, waiting for the actual shot, then went up and challenged it. Wade missed the shot badly. Carney skied for the rebound and threw a quick outlet to Miller. Miller took one dribble and fired a pass the length of the court to Thad who released on the shot and beat three Heat players down the floor. The pass was long, Thad had to jump out of bounds to grab it, in mid-air he spun and found Reggie Evans for a dunk. 4 players touched the ball in about 2 seconds, the ball went the length of the court, and a missed jumper and an errant pass turned into a dunk based on nothing but hustle and athleticism. That is why I love watching this team play.

Off the bench, Reggie Evans (11 points, 14 boards in 23 minutes) and Rodney Carney (2 steals, 3 blocks and 5 fouls in 20 minutes) brought energy and defensive toughness in the second half. Carney's second straight solid performance. Plus he threw a monster dunk down Wade's throat, then when Wade returned the favor he got a T called for taunting. Rodney Carney should never get in someone's head like that.

I'm always afraid to jinx things like this, but ever since Thad's minutes increased to 30+/game, this team has looked like a legit playoff team in the Eastern conference. They've now won 4 of 6 and they're only 1/2 game out of the eight spot. Let's hope this recent resurgence hasn't been smoke and mirrors (or wounded opponents) but a real sign that this coach has figured out the best way to use his players, these players have figured out what their roles are and this team has figured out how to put 48 quality minutes together. Let's hope.

Player of The Game: Iguodala
Team Record: 20-30
by Brian on Feb 7 2008
Tags: Andre Iguodala | Basketball | Heat | Sixers |