Seeing Sixe(r)s

by Tzvi Twersky | @ttwersky

On Saturday night, the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the visiting Toronto Raptors, 97-62.

Both teams were playing their second game in as many nights, but only Philadelphia seemed to be able to shake off any residual fatigue in the one-sided affair.

Jrue Holiday and Andrea Iguodala each scored 14 points and five other players scored at least nine points for the Sixers. Andrea Bargnani, one of two players to score in double-figures for the Raptors, finished with 21 points.

The win was the fourth in a row for the 5-2 Sixers.


All Praise Due to Last Season: Despite starting the 2010-11 season 3-13, the Sixers managed to finish 41-41 and extend a first round series with the LeBron-led Heat to five games. With 11 of the same players back on this year’s roster, the Sixers quick start may very well be linked to last season’s sprint to the finish.

“There’s definitely a carry-over effect [from last year], especially with so many returning guys,” Elton Brand said after Saturday’s win. “We didn’t win too many games in the Playoffs, but we had a good showing. And guys wanted to get better. They feed off of that. They want to do better. So I think that’s something we can say; there’s carry-over.”

Evan Turner, one of the players showing the most improvement for the Sixers thus far, agrees with Brand. Turner says that winning games, which Philadelphia started doing down the stretch last season, only begets more winning.

“Winning is infectious,” Turner, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 Draft, said.  “We have the upper hand because we all came back, and we’re a confident team now. We’re not trying to steal games; we feel like every game we go out we can win.”

Exhausting Week Ahead: Starting with a home game against the Indiana Pacers tonight, the Sixers play three games in a row and five in six days. Brand, the oldest starter on the team at 32, can’t exactly remember the last time he played that many games in that short a span.

“Maybe I played that many a row in the [NCAA] Tournament,” said Brand. “No, you just play on the weekends then. It had to be the ACC Tournament, and before that AAU.”

Despite the exhausting week ahead, Brand’s not overly concerned.

“We have strength in numbers,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve played more than 35 minutes in a game yet, and I think I average 38 for my career. It’s still three games with travel, but we’ll see.”

Young’s Back: Thad Young, a crucial bench player who was rewarded with a lucrative five-year contract during the protracted training camp in November, feels like he’s finally rounding into shape.

“Coming to camp was a little crazy because I hadn’t played five-on-five at all in five months,” Young, who was a restricted free agent over the course of the lockout and fearful of injury, said. “I was kinda getting upset, like, telling my trainers, ‘there’s only so many cones and so many chairs I can run around. Please, please let me play five-on-five one time.’”

Seven games into his re-immersion in regular season NBA basketball, the 23-year-old Young is averaging 12.7 ppg and 5 rpg, numbers that mirror his career averages.

“It took a minute to re-adjust, but everything’s finally back in sync.”

Rookie Debut: Lavoy Allen arrived to the Wells Fargo Center for Saturday’s game via Septa’s Broad Street Line subway. A few hours later, he left on cloud nine.

Allen, the 50th selection in this past June’s Draft, had yet to enter a game going into Saturday. But with a sizable swath of the crowd chanting “We Want Lavoy!” and just over 4:30 left on the game clock, Coach Collins subbed in the rookie power forward. The local product, he attended Pennsbury high and Temple University, failed to score but did grab two rebounds.

“It felt good to just be able to show my jersey out there,” said Allen, “especially with all the people that came out to support me.”