Monday, March 28, 2011

Sixers Beat Bulls: They Pull Me Back In

So I've been watching more and more of the Sixers this last week, catching the first half where they ran up a big lead in Miami only to get crushed by Dwyane Wade late, and then on Sunday where they wasted a buzzer miracle to lose in overtime to the Kings. And it seemed as if I had started to take a serious interest in them just in time for a poor finish to the year, with the 15 games over .500 middle being just what going nowhere franchises do every few years, just to make sure that there is the occasional first round playoff loss to mix into your decade of meh. No way they win the next night of a back-to-back, on the road in Chicago, against the best team in the East, and one of the best defensive teams in the league. Not against MVP front-runner Derrick Rose, do-everything defensive hammer Joakim Noah, glue guy small forward Luol Deng, and some of the best defensive rotations in the game.

And then they played the game.

With the enigmatic Thaddeus Young scoring early and the usually useless Spencer Hawes scoring late, they more or less took a lead early and never let it go, snapping the Bulls 14-game home winning streak. Rose got his 31, but he also turned it over 10 times against just five assists. Andre Iguodala shook off recent knee issues to give one of his classic 19-7-7 games, adding 2 steals, a block and a three. But the thing that was really impressive about the game was that the Sixers won it, rather than the Bulls losing it. Sure, the home team was flat and down early in the first, but in the third, with the house rocking, Rose came alive and helped cut the lead to five at the end of the quarter. On the road, against the probable MVP, in a tough room on the wrong end of a back to back? That's when you are supposed to fold the tents and talk about how you just didn't have anything left in the tank, not force turnovers, slam home dunks in transition, and just run away with the game to the shocked silence of the crowd.

By winning, the team kept pace with the Knicks to hold the sixth seed. They also managed to avoid their first 3-game losing streak since November. They put six men in double figures, which is also known as the only way they can ever win games, since none of these guys are good enough on offense to just carry a club. They held the Bulls to 1-of-8 from the arc, while going 4-of-14 themselves, and I think I've been waiting for my whole damn life for a Sixers team that's better than anyone from out there. (Thank you, Jodie Meeks, thank you.)

And they've provided one more meager reason to think that they will be more than cannon fodder in the first round, especially if they get a beaten-down Celtics team, or a suddenly panicky Heats club. And even if the Bulls come back to the pack? Well, tonight's game ensured that the Sixers have won the season series against the men from the Second City. They clearly hold no terror.

So good on you, local laundry, for fighting back the descent into meh and winning a massive game on the road. Now, just remember that you can play this exact same game in a few weeks, and we'll be all good. Better than you could ever know, really...

No comments:

Ads In This Size Rule