Two-in-a-row, huh? It's been quite some time since the Sixers have strung two wins together, and even longer since their nominal point guard had 7 assists in a game. Both strings of futility came to an end in Toronto tonight. (game capsule
Here's your rotation chart. I highlighted the stretch where they put the game away in the fourth. No bad rotations of note, they just sort of toyed with the Raptors for most of the night:
Well, it wound up being a demonstrative win in the end, even if it didn't play out that way from beginning to end. The difference between this game and the last game against the Raptors was the defense. When the Sixers got their doors blown off last week, they didn't defend at all, and their offense kept them in the game through the first half. When the offense failed in the second half, they couldn't overcome the Raptors. Tonight, they defended the entire night, and basically beat the Raptors into submission. This was the formula for so many wins early in the season, and it's good to see them put it into practice again.
Jrue and Turner both had very good games, even though they only combined for 14 points on 15 shots. As I said earlier, Jrue had his first 7-assist game since February 10th, which is absolutely absurd and unacceptable. Turner came to life in the fourth quarter and finished with an impressive stat line. Thad was the leading scorer and played a great game. Hawes blocked four shots and still managed to look like the softest player I've ever seen. I can't wait until that guy is wearing another uniform.
The Knicks beat the Bucks, so the Sixers remain 1 game up on NYK, and move their lead over the lottery to three games. The Celtics beat the Hawks in overtime, which makes things a bit more interesting. With 8 games left to play, the Sixers are three games behind three teams. They hold the tiebreaker over both the Celtics and the Hawks, and Dwight Howard is still missing games with back spasms. Moving up may not be out of the question, and the Sixers only need to catch one of those teams to miss the Bulls and the Heat in the first round of the playoffs. They can tie up the season series with Orlando on Monday. The Celts still have a back-to-back-to-back left on their schedule, and they finish with 5 tough games. Actually, all three of these teams are playing each other quite a bit over the remaining eight games. If the Sixers can finish something like 6-2...ah, nevermind. Don't get caught up yet.
Player of The Game:
Jrue. 8 points, 7 boards, 7 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 0 turnovers in 37 minutes.
vs. NJN, Friday