Sixers Come Up Big When It Counts, 99-86

Posted: March 23, 2012 in Hoops, Sixers
Tags: , , ,

Big win for the Sixers tonight. For one, the Sixers finally have one “elite” team in the East whose head they may be in, instead of the other way around.  Most importantly, the Sixers pick up a game on both the Celtics and the Knicks today, and regain a small amount of breathing room.  Up next, the Sixers have go out west and take on the surging Spurs, a team that beat them by 10 at the Wells Fargo Center in a pretty tough game back on February 8th.  The Sixers will be coming off a day of rest (although they have to travel tomorrow), while the Spurs will be on the third night of a back-to-back-to-back.

The game took a turn for the worse when Mickael Pietrus took a really nasty fall to the court in the second quarter:

That awful spill took a bit of the wind out of the Celtics sails seemingly, as the Sixers came out ferociously in the 3rd quarter and never looked back.  A glance at the box score reveals Spencer Hawes’ second double-double since returning from Achilles issues, and he looked as athletic as he ever has (not saying much, but he threw down a couple of nice dunks).  But it is his solid passing in the high and low post that the Sixers have really missed, as he also added 3 assists to his 12 points and 10 boards.  Having him to hit the offensive glass, along with Elton (7 offensive boards combined), certainly helps the Sixers on nights like tonight, where they only shot 37% from the floor in the first half.  All in all, a good win for the Sixers, perhaps primarily because it was a necessary win, and the Sixers showed the ability to come up when it counts, which seems to be the biggest knock on them around the league and in the media.

For reference, here’s the Sixers’ record against potential playoff competition

Heat – 0 and 3.  And the Sixers have lost by a combined 46 points.  At this point, the Heat seem to own the Sixers, and the Sixers seem to play a bit scared against the Heat.  On paper the matchup seems decent, but even Iguodala’s stalwart defense can’t slow Lebron, and Wade and Bosh have their way with Sixers guards and power forwards respectively.

Bulls – 1 and 2.  Sixers had one nice home win against the Bulls, but have dropped two to them since.  This still seems like a good matchup for the Sixers, but in a war of defensive attrition, D-Rose (if he can get healthy by playoff time) is the closer that the Sixers don’t have.

Indiana – 1 and 1.  Sixers beat Indy by 10 at home and lost by 17 in Indianapolis.  If the Sixers have home court in this matchup, they have a decent shot, but it’ll be an all out war, as the Bulls found out last year.

Knicks – 1 and 2.  Sixers beat NYK once at home, and have lost one at home and one on the road against them.  I think the Sixers have a slight edge here, but it seems like they still shrink a bit in the spotlight, and that’s worrisome when battling a team that lives in it.

Bucks – 1 and 0.  Sixers have one win against them, but with Bogut gone, the emergence of Ersanity, and the addition of Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh – this is really a Bucks squad the Sixers haven’t played yet.

Boston – 2 and 0.  The Sixers just seem to have the C’s number this year.  Winning two games against them by a combined 45 points at home.  The flipside is that the Sixers haven’t played the Celtics in the Garden yet, tonight’s game came on the tail end of an 8 game road trip, and in the first win the Sixers ran the Celtics out of the gym so quickly the game was over at half time.

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