Hawesome, Streaking and the Dr.’s Return
An inefficient summary of the efficient Sixers and their impressive start to the season.
by Ben Taylor
I’ve been dying to write something for a couple of weeks but was terrified I’d curse the streak. Regular service resumes. Nice job, Mike D’Antoni (bet I’m the first person to say that this season).
So…how about those Philadelphia 76ers?!
Before the holidays I wrote about a couple of pre-season stories that I was interested in seeing play out. To tank or not to tank was the big question, and to be honest, a concern. Had I backed the wrong horse? Were we about to become the new Timberwolves, while the Timberwolves were busy becoming the new Clippers?
But surely nobody, not even Doug Collins, would have predicted the 9-3 start, with six wins in a row, a number one spot on ESPN’s power rankings (at the time of this writing), and top three in the League for offensive and defensive efficiency. Without question, a killer start to the season and my new life as a Sixer.
From what I’ve seen, the efficiency comes from two things: hard work and playing smart. The guys are working hard for each other, all of the time. They don’t seem to mind who puts up the big stats or take the plaudits. Everyone knows their role (credit to Coach Collins for that), and they go out and execute it. Proper team basketball is a beautiful thing to watch, and something you don’t see a lot in the League these days. I love it.
It’s not all about the collective, though. Some guys have put their hand up in a big way. Jrue Holiday is growing into a real leader. Lou Williams is shooting the lights out. Andre Iguodala is solid defensively, as always. Thad Young is being Thad Young. Spencer Hawes (aka Hawesome) has stepped it up and Evan Turner (complete with new jump shot) is making a big difference with strong production off the bench.
At this rate, how can we not sweep through the playoffs on our way to bringing the Larry O’Brien trophy back to Philly?!
Well, yes, realists would say that the schedule has been fairly kind to us. Personally, I’m really excited to see how this group fares against the elite teams. In the Knicks game, they seemed to move away from the tried and tested team play, and tried to play the Knicks at their own game. It didn’t work, probably because the Knicks don’t know what their own game is yet. The plus side? They stayed in the contest until the final 20 seconds. Bring on the Heat game later this week.
Watching the games back on League Pass I’ve noticed something pretty cool. The efficiency doesn’t stop with the team. Fans at the Wells Fargo Center are also getting in on the act, utilizing one solid chant for three separate players—Jrue Holiday (“Jruuuuuuuuuuue”), Lou Williams (“Looooooooooou”), and Nik Vucevic (“Vuuuuuuuuuuuc”). That’s an Fan Efficiency Rating (FER) of 300 percent. Sixer faithful, you are an inspiration.
It was great to see Dr. J, Moses, World B. Free and the guys get introduced to the crowd before the home opener. As the good Dr. said that night, if the older guys being there helps or inspires the team in any way, then they are all for it. Inviting them down was a really nice touch from the new ownership group. While I haven’t been able to take advantage of $1 hot dog night yet, it has been a breath of fresh air to see those guys chatting to fans on Twitter, taking on people’s feedback, and just embracing their new position. And, obviously, killing off the gangsta rabbit. Keep up the good work.
Watching games live has been a lot harder than I expected. Pre-Sixers, I watched whichever game was on early, and didn’t really matter who I got to see. Now, my sleep patterns are totally screwed from staying awake to catch the first quarter of Philly games. It’s also impossible to avoid the results so I can watch the re-run on League Pass when I get home from work without knowing what happens. But, it sure as hell beats the lockout, so I can’t complain too much.
Outside of the Sixers, it has been an interesting start to the season. The shortened schedule is crazy and it is easy to imagine the back-to-back-to-back’s really taking their toll on some guys come the end of the season. Not Kobe Bryant though, because that guy is indestructible! Doubt the Black Mamba at your peril.
Before I go, a quick shout to Luol Deng, who is getting it done for the Bulls again this season. Does the guy ever take a night off? If there is any justice, people will vote Luol into the All-Star Game and give some recognition to not only one the most under-appreciated players in the League, but a truly classy guy and top competitor. London is behind you, Lu!