Thursday, February 2, 2012

How You Like Them Now?

Tonight in Phila-delphia, the Sixers buried the visiting Bulls, 98-82. It really wasn't as close as that; the team led by 20 at the end of the third quarter and kept Derrick Rose and the Bulls starters on the bench in the fourth. And the only real moment of disappointment was that they came close to the free Big Mac, but didn't take a final shot.

So, what are the reasons to denigrate this win, the way the national media has denigrated nearly every other? The Bulls folded their tents early, since they have a game tomorrow night. The Bulls really missed Rip Hamilton, who is now out indefinitely with a leg problem, and I guess making excuses for injury is valid in some circles, regardless of the fact that Hamilton is ancient and ancient players get hurt. The game was at home, and you should win home games. The Sixers got 15 and 6 out of Lavoy Allen, who might be found money as a talented big from Temple who fell in the draft due to questions about motor, but looks just fine now that he's got routine exposure to Doug Collins. Once the league gets enough tape on Allen, the Sixer night shift won't be able to just come in and crush teams, the way they've been doing. Boston beat Toronto by 36 points tonight to get to 11-10, and once we get to warm weather games, all of that soul-crushing Bahstan Experience will ruin my day with a vengeance.

And, um, more such noise.

The Sixers now lead the Atlantic by 4.5 games, and their 15-6 record now includes back to back wins over teams with winning records (Orlando and Chicago). Yes, they've played the easiest schedule in the NBA, but winning 3 out of 4 games is tough in any league, let alone one with extensive travel. They've won their games by an average of nearly 12 points a game, and when you consider the fact that they don't exactly play at racehorse pace, that's even more impressive. They shoot threes well, generate turnovers, and don't turn the ball over themselves. If this is a smoke and mirrors outfit, there's an awful lot of smoke, and some pretty damned big mirrors.

Oh, and they also won tonight without Spencer Hawes and Nikola Vucevic, which is to saw, their top two centers, against a team with quality in the pivot. Tony Battie and Allen combined for 17 and 8 against Joakim Noah and Omer Asik's 4 and 9. They also beat the top seed in the East with Jodie Meeks giving them 1 for 5 in 14 minutes from the starting shooting guard position, and not very much from Evan Turner (2/4/1).

As I write this, they are the #2 seed in the East, with three straight wins against the #1. On Friday, they get a Heat team that just somehow spit the bit in Milwaukee, who schooled them a week ago in Miami.

And last Sunday, as I watched the Lemur Chucklefest Halftime Show... Magic Johnson ranked the Celtics in the top 5 in the East, and the Sixers... not at all. Because, well, who the hell wants to believe in a starless team that wins with defense, when you can fellate the same thing you've been fellating for years?

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