Well, the Sixers finally got a win without raising my blood pressure to dangerous levels. Toronto never threatened after the Sixers punished them in the second quarter. They did cut the lead to nine in the fourth, but the offensive star of the game, Thad Young, put them back in line quickly. After the jump we'll check out Coach DiLeo's rotations, in detail, and talk about why this wasn't a 40-point win (which it really should've been).
The obvious choice for player of the game would be Thad Young, who scored a career-high 29 points and really made it look easy. He hit shots from all over the floor, finished in traffic and basically ran the Raptors into submission. He'd be the obvious choice, but you're going to have to wait a couple of minutes to see if I chose him.
First, let's talk about why the game was as close as it was. It's really simple, after the half, the Sixers stopped playing defense. After holding Toronto to 39 points in the entire first half, they allowed the Raptors to score 35 in the third quarter alone. Then Toronto tacked on another 32 in the final quarter. The game got very ragged in the fourth, and I think the lack of defense was contagious, but I still would've liked to have seen a complete defensive effort. The only reason their defense didn't come back to bite them is Toronto was just as bad on that end of the floor.
Let's dive right into the rotations now, then circle back to a couple of other notable performances:
Two things of note. First, check out what happened when Lou was running the show in the second quarter. I have to say, this was the best game I've seen from him this season. He only took two jumpers, by my count, he was making smart decisions with the ball, and instead of dribbling on the perimeter with no purpose, he was taking the ball to the rack. A couple of times, he used the drive to set up his teammates, which is something we've rarely seen this season. His energy off the bench was probably the main reason the Sixers took off in the second, so credit where credit is due.
The second thing I noticed was the distribution of Speights' minutes. Bryon asked in the comments why Speights never gets touches on the low blocks, I think one of the reasons is that Reggie Evans consistantly clogs the lane and the bulk of Speights' minutes came with Evans on the floor as well.
Honestly, I don't see any reason why Evans should ever play more minutes than Speights in a game, and he did tonight. Speights poured in 13 in his 16 minutes of action tonight.
If you missed the game, Andre Iguodala was limited to 36 minutes of action because he left the game in the second quarter with mild back spasms. He returned and played the bulk of the second half, so let's hope it isn't too serioius.
And finally, onto the player of the game. In my pregame, the one key I laid out was for Sam Dalembert to be able to, and allowed to, handle Chris Bosh on his own. On the first play of the game, Sammy was whistled for a touch foul on Bosh. On the second play, he stoned Bosh. On the third, he blocked Bosh's shot. That set the tone for the night, and Sammy continued to shut Bosh down the entire night. Actually, Sammy out-scored Bosh 19-17 and beat him on the boards 13-4. Most importantly, the Sixers never had to double Bosh, not once that I saw all night long. It was a dominant 33 minutes for the big Haitian, reminiscent of his play down the stretch last season. If this Sam shows up the rest of the way, things are going to start clicking in a big way for the Sixers.
Player of The Game: Sammy
Team Record: 31-31
Up Next: Vs. Chicago at the Spectrum on Friday night.
Detroit fell to the Knicks in overtime, leaving the Sixers only a half game out of the sixth seed. Atlanta and Miami both won, however. If you're worried about the Sixers' downward mobility in the standings, Chicago lost to Orlando and the Nets are leading the Warriors in the second quarter.