I am writing this post after getting home from another superb performance and win by our 76ers over the San Antonio Spurs. That means my head has not exploded – yet. In my opinion this was the perfect basketball game to attend when you are a die-hard fan of the home team has 3 main characteristics.
Some exciting plays and moments. That can be dunks, crossovers or draining a few big three point shots.
A comfortable lead that is not too large that you lose interest because the game is a rout.
A victory. Obviously this is the most important trait.
This game, at least for me, was perfect. It had all the aspects, and the win is even sweeter coming against the defending NBA champions.
Observations from the game
- Another packed house – 19,942. Compared to the Boston game the crowd was almost entirely Philly dominated. The fans were electric from the opening tap, and this was easily the loudest the Wachovia Center has been in all the games I’ve attended.
- Andre Miller’s post game was dominating against Tony Parker. Parker’s weak defense was completely exposed all game by Miller. What I found interesting was Miller’s pre-game and halftime routine. Almost every single shot he practiced was from the corners in that 15-17 foot range. It served as foreshadowing for what was to come during the game.
- The Spurs looked tired coming off a tough lost in Detroit the night before. With that said, it takes nothing from the Sixers even a little bit who had their own hard fought game last night. From the jump they controlled the game on offense working in the half-court through Miller’s post game, at times almost exclusively. Our guys clearly had much more energy evidenced by the 12 offensive rebounds, many of which were floor boards. The Sixers won the hustle points aspect of the game getting to most of the lose balls.
- What won’t show up in the box score was Samuel Dalembert’s individual defense on Tim Duncan. Timmy shot 5-14, scoring just 16 points and pulling down only 6 boards in 33 minutes. When the Spurs were trying to make their run cutting the lead to 6, Dalembert did what everyone said he couldn’t. Stop Duncan with no help. He blocked two Duncan shot attempts straight up, which for me sealed the win.
- The final game note is a very promising one. I saw a clear sign of Andre Iguodala’s emerging leadership. When San Antonio was pressing at the end of the game, in two possessions Lou Williams turned the ball over, then almost did it again but was bailed out with a foul call. As Williams headed to the line Iguodala who was visibly pissed off after the previous turnover put his arm around Lou’s head “tight.” What came next can only be assumed as a stern “get your act together” judging from his face followed by some words of encouragement. I was very pleased to see this type of behavior from the Sixers best player.
Going into the Boston game all the talk was about this “tough stretch” coming up and rightfully so. The next 11 games for the 76ers are against the likes of Boston (twice), Detroit, Chicago (twice), San Antonio, Denver, Orlando, New Jersey, Phoenix, and Cleveland.
But I think the mentality of the fans when saying “tough stretch” was still coming from a losing team perspective. Meaning the expectation over the next 11 games was vastly lowered. If I would have said the Sixers would be 3-1 in these first four games I would have been laughed at and called “retarted.”
But times are changing and our expectations for the Sixers should be changing as well. Are they a title contender? Of course not. In fact they aren’t even over .500 yet. But what they are is a team that has finally figured out how to win – consistently. Like Pete pointed out, the team is 17-6 since the end of January ranking second the in the Eastern Conference. And I believe this level of performance will continue through the last 15 games of the regular season and into the playoffs.
Come on Philadelphia 76ers fans, it’s time to expect more from this team. They deserve it.