That calm, proud feeling you've been overcome with for the past hour or so doesn't happen often, so enjoy it. A feeling like this only comes from a perfect game from your beloved team, against a powerhouse, that results in a blowout.
The Spurs came into town riding a high after beating the Lakers the other night. They came in on the first game of their rodeo road trip. They came in knowing the Sixers should've beaten them on their own home court. They came in with full knowledge of what this Sixers team is capable of. The went out with their tail between their legs. This wasn't a case of the Sixers sneaking up on the big bad Spurs, this was a case the two teams standing toe-to-toe, and the Sixers repeatedly punching the Spurs in the face. They countered every move Popovich made until he finally threw in the towel with about 7 minutes to go in the fourth.
Let's get all of the bad stuff out of the way first. Lou, Willie and Ivey combined to shoot 9/29 from the floor ... That's all I've got for the bad side of the ledger.
Pretty much everyone else who played, with the exception of Kareem Rush, had a positive impact on this game. Sammy was a beast on the boards, and played top-notch defense on Tim Duncan. They rarely doubled Tim. If you want to know why the Spurs' three point attempts were limited, the conversation starts with Sammy's ability to defend Tim. Theo did a great job when he was in there too.
Iguodala was Iguodala, meaning he was awesome. He also had the play of the game when he went by Bruce Bowen like he was made of stone and threw down a reverse jam in traffic.
I could go on about how big of win this was. What it means in the grand scheme of things. I could talk about how Marreese and Lou stamped out the Spurs' run in the second quarter, something the bench could never have done in the first 30 games of the season. Instead, I want to talk about one small game-within-the-game series which put Tony DiLeo up against Gregg Popovich.
Both Pop and DiLeo played unorthodox starting lineups. The Spurs put a three-point specialist at PF/C. The Sixers go with a small-ish PF themselves, in Thad Young. You'd think these moves may cancel each other out, but that's not what happened. Early on, Bonner sprung loose for a couple of threes as Thad was helping and gambling a little too much. Then, DiLeo took a look at the match-ups and started calling plays for Thad.
Thad torched Bonner to the point that Popovich had to switch someone else on him. Michael Finley was the next guy to take the challenge, and fail. After Finley came Bowen, same results. This was the first time that I've noticed Coach DiLeo picking out a favorable match-up, and riding it. It was absolutely the most plays called for Thad in his entire career. Thad responded with a career-high 27 point on 11/15 from the floor.
Good teams can ride different players for stretches at a time. Good coaches identify the mismatches and feed them until the other coach is forced to change his game plan. Tonight was a perfect example of DiLeo's feel for this roster and his coaching instincts. This is the type of coaching we rarely saw from Mo.
Six straight, three straight against playoff teams. Let's keep it going tonight against the Knicks.
Player of The Game: Thad
Team Record: 19-20
Up Next: @ NY Knicks tonight at 7:30pm.