Tag Archives: 76ers

Feets Don’t Fail Me Now: Sixers Gamble On Injury Prone Draft Picks

29 Jun

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

If Joel Embiid can stay healthy, the Sixers could be a good team in the future.

If Joel Embiid can stay healthy, the Sixers could be a good team in the future.

PHILADELPHIA-Last Sunday I was a guest on 94 WIP-FM with Ricky Ricardo and we were discussing the NBA Draft and the possibility that the 76ers would draft Kansas’s 7-foot center Joel Embiid who has a stress fracture in his right foot.

A fan called the show and vented his spleen about how felt it would be idiotic for the Sixers to take draft another big man in the draft with a damaged leg. It was to the point where the caller was breathing to the point where it sounded like he was hyperventilating.

While there are bigger things than basketball to be that upset, the sentiment among fans is certainly understandable given how the 76ers franchise seems to be enamored with big men with leg and foot problems.

The Sixers made the injured Embiid the third pick of the draft much to the chagrin of Sixers fans, who are wondering what are general manager Sam Hinkie and head coach Brett Brown trying to do? This guy has the same fractured navicular bone that ended the careers of Bill Walton and Yao Ming.

During the last three years, 76ers fans have been enduring big men with leg problems. Last year, the Sixers drafted Nerlens Noel, who did not get any playing time with the team because he was rehabbing the ACL in his left knee.

And speaking of big men with bad feet, the Sixers fans are still smarting from the “thievery” of one free agent center Andrew Bynum whose bum legs prevented him from putting on a Sixers uniform. That was a true embarrassment for the franchise considering the huge welcome for him by thousands of 76ers fans at the National Constitution Center in 2012.

Meanwhile, Hinkie has been telling fans to patient with the team. On one hand that’s understandable, the Sixers rebuilding process is going to take some time. Hopefully, fans won’t have to experience another 19-63 season.

I know a large number of fans are upset about the team picking Embiid because of his injured foot and they should be given the team’s recent history of injuries. They are also ticked off about acquiring 6-10 Croatian power forward Dario Saric, who will spend the next two years playing for a pro team in Turkey.

The bottom-line here is that the gambles this management team is making had better pay off into the team being a contender for an NBA title or Hinkie and Brown will be run out of town quick, fast and a hurry.

If Embiid and Noel become the forces in the low post the Sixers think they can become with a mature Michael Carter-Williams at point guard and Saric is the second coming of Dirk Nowitzki, Hinkie and the Sixers will be hailed as geniuses who will never want for a steak dinner or alcoholic beverage in this town again.

The seasons, like last year, that they will have tanked will be looked upon as a fond memory, especially if there’s a parade down Broad Street in the next five or six years.

Now if those injuries keep bothering those guys to the point to where they are missing a significant amount of games, every columnist in this town (including yours truly), sports talk radio host and fans on the various social media platforms, will never let the Sixers hear the end of it.

It will go down in the lore of bad moves personnel moves by Philly sports teams like the Phillies trading pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, the Eagles drafting combine workout wonder Mike Mamula who turned out to be a bust or the Sixers drafting Charles Shackleford over Brad Daugherty.

 

The Final Answer: Allen Iverson Retires as a Sixers Icon

31 Oct

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grXws5m11SA

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Allen Iverson taking questions from reporters at his retirement press conference at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Allen Iverson taking questions from reporters at his retirement press conference at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Allen Iverson may have stood a few inches under 6-feet, but on the court he was as tall as Wilt Chamberlain and could fly as high as Dr. J., Julius Erving.

Like Chamberlain and Erving, Iverson, the Philadelphia 76ers first-round pick in the 1996 draft out of Georgetown, did some incredible things on the court. He also left a hip-hop sensibility in his wake similar to Chamberlain’s signature headbands and Dr. J’s ‘fro.

And he owns every bit of it.

“I took an ass-kicking for me being me in my career, for me looking the way I looked and dressing the way I dressed,” Iverson said. “My whole thing was just being me. Now, you look around the NBA and all of them have tattoos, guys wearing cornrows. You used to think the suspect was the guy with the cornrows, now you see the police officers with the cornrows. Know what I’m saying? I took a beating for those types of things.”

On Wednesday, Allen Iverson returned to the Wells Fargo Center, the place where he made his mark, to formally retire from the game of basketball as a 76er, and to thank the fans that supported him the most throughout his career.

He leaves the game with no regrets, despite the on and off the court drama that sometimes accompanied him, Iverson said.

Iverson also leaves knowing that he made it a lot easier for the nonconformist in the NBA due to his hard-charging, uncompromising style both on and off the court that gave a voice and a platform to an often-criticized and misunderstood generation of young people.

“I’m proud that I’m able to say I changed a lot in this culture and in this game,” he said. “It’s not about how you look on the outside, it’s who you are on the inside.”

During the ceremonies, Iverson acknowledged his former coaches–Georgetown head coach John Thompson and 76ers head coach Larry Brown–and former Sixers vice president Pat Croce for helping him to shape his career as a basketball player and as a man.

Poster featuring the many faces of AI. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Poster featuring the many faces of AI. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Known as one of the best pound-for-pound players in the history of the game, the 38-year-old Iverson won four NBA scoring titles, was an 11-time NBA All-Star, a seven-time All-NBA selection, a two-time NBA All-Star Game MVP, and the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2001. He was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year during the 1996-1997 season. He also averaged 26.7 points per game during the regular-season, giving him the sixth highest average all-time, and scored 29 points per game during the playoffs.

With those numbers, there is no doubt that Iverson is a Hall-of-Famer, possibly on the first ballot. He was arguably one of the best little men to play the game along with guys like Nate “Tiny” Archibald, Isaiah Thomas and Bob Cousy.

“I don’t think anybody would dispute that,” said Theo Ratliff, Iverson’s Sixers teammate during the 2001 season. “A guy that put up the numbers and do what he did throughout his career at 160 pounds and being one of the best scorers to ever play the game, you can’t beat that.”

Of course, Philly sports fans no doubt remember how Iverson led the Sixers on a magical run to the NBA Finals. Though the Sixers would lose in five games to the Los Angeles Lakers, Iverson played well, especially in game one of that series when he scored 48 points and hit that memorable jump shot over Lakers guard Tyronn Lue who leapt to block the shot.

During his retirement press conference, Iverson said he was glad to have had the opportunity to play in Philadelphia and  be mentioned in the same discussion with greats like Dr. J.  In the times that Iverson has made appearances at the Wells Fargo, the roar of the crowd is the same when Erving is in the building.

“When I think about Philly fans, that’s what I think about. I always wanted them to treat me the same way they treat him when he comes home,” he said. “When people tell me that it’s Doc and it’s A-I when you talk about Philly basketball that’s like one of the biggest compliments someone can give you. You put my name in the same sentence as Doc. That’s why this day is so special because of things like that.”

Iverson’s years in Philadelphia didn’t come without its share of controversy or vitriol. Aside from the braids and tattoos, people didn’t  like the company he kept, the way he partied and caroused, or his inability to take criticism from his coaches and the media. He also had his brushes with the law, most notably an incident involving his now ex-wife Tawanna. There were more than a few people in the community who thought him to be rude and arrogant.

And then there was 2002’s press conference that rocketed him into the Jim Mora stratosphere of sports-related meltdowns with the line “We’re talkin’ ‘bout practice!”

Iverson acknowledged all of that and admitted that some of the criticism hurt, especially when his kids heard it.

But through it all, Iverson said he has no regrets about his time as a basketball player in Philadelphia.

“It’s easy to say I wish I would have did it this way. I can’t go back and rewind it and do it all over again,” Iverson said. “I’m happy with the way I’ve done it because it taught me a lot.  To answer the question, no I don’t regret anything. If I could take back all the mistakes I made throughout my career, I would have missed no shots, I would have made no turnovers, I would have gone right instead of going left. I would have got on I-76 at 4 o’clock instead of five…

“I don’t regret it because it was blessing to get me here to the point to where I can retire. …Coming from Newport News, Va. what more could you ask for? My family is taken care of for the rest of their lives. What do you mean, regrets?”

Patience: New Sixers Coach Brett Brown Sees the Light at the End of the Tunnel

16 Aug

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report/The Philadelphia Sunday Sun

New Sixers head coach Brett Brown knows that rebuilding the 76ers will be a long-term process. Photo by Chris Murray.

New Sixers head coach Brett Brown knows that rebuilding the 76ers will be a long-term process. Photo by Chris Murray.

PHILADELPHIA—Everyone in the 76ers organization, along with fans and media, is bracing themselves for a season where they’re not going to win many games.

But new Sixers head coach Brett Brown told everyone at his press conference on Wednesday that it wouldn’t be that way forever and that there’s light at the end of what some see as an endless tunnel.

“I hope that everybody understands the level of patience that we’re all going to have, not acceptance. Patience,” Brown said, his thick New England accent perfuming the air. “Because when we’re not playing hard and we’re not executing well, they will be coached. They should be coached, that’s my job.

“But when you step back and you see that we’re undermanned, then we have to patient and grow it, develop it, free agent it and let a ping-pong ball [determine], those types of things. That’s the evolution we’re just going to have to expect.”

Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie said the thing he likes about Brown, who signed a four-year contract with the team, is the ability to understand that building a winner doesn’t happen overnight.

“I like long-term thinkers. I like people who get up and put their hard hat on every single day,” Hinkie said. “I like people who can see the big picture and who think about how important the foundation is to the third floor when you get the old thing built. Doing the foundation right really matters and that really resonated with me.”

Brown does bring a pretty good coaching pedigree to the Sixers.  He has four NBA Championship rings as an assistant to San Antonio Spurs head coach Greg Popovich.  Brown also coached in the Australian National Basketball League where he won a championship for the North Melbourne Giants in 1994.

At the 2012 Olympics in London, Brown coached the Australian national team to a 3-3 record, which was one of the best Olympics runs in the history of Australian basketball.  Brown played his collegiate ball at Boston University under Louisville and soon-to-be Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino.

A native of Maine, Brown played for his high school basketball for his father, Bob Brown, a member of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame.

After working in the basketball heaven that was San Antonio where he coached players like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, Brown certainly has his work cut out for him with a young team that includes rookies like former Syracuse star Michael Carter Williams and Kentucky big man Nerlins Noel.

But the one thing that seems to bode well for Brown is his background in player development. During his time with the Spurs, player development was Brown’s specialty as an assistant coach.

“We need a staff, we need a mentality that’s going to be heavily, heavily focused on development and it’s going to start with me and it’s going to start with a structure where we’re practicing now and then to evolution of a new practice facility,” Brown said.

“Pre-practice work, video work, all those things contribute to how you develop somebody whether it’s Tony Parker’s jump shot, Bruce Bowen realizing that everybody double-teams Tim Duncan so you better be skilled at that single floor spot in the corner,” Brown continued… “We got fantastic development people in San Antonio…We’ve really have paid a lot of attention to that area.”

With the relatively young players that he has like Thaddeus Young, Brown, like his old mentor Popovich, is a defensive-minded coach. During his press conference, he made it clear that Sixers won’t sacrifice the offensive end of the floor for defense.

“We want to go, we want to get out in open court and we want to run,” Brown said. “One of the main things we’re going to look at is pace …We’re going to run …It’s hard running over 82 games. You really can’t do that unless have an extraordinary fitness base and you play 10 or 11 deep.

“I hope that you’re going to see a team that’s exciting offensively and that is appreciated with the competitiveness and toughness defensively,” he said.

If anything else, Brown does understand the odds of rebuilding a team from loser to a perennial powerhouse are stacked against him. But for him that’s the beauty of this job.

“Can you imagine if we can get this thing right?” Brown said. “Really? If we can get this right with the culture and the history that this city has, with the pride and the toughness that this city has, that is very alluring. It’s tempting. It’s dangerous. Rebuilding is a hard thing. I feel thrilled to be here.”

Sixers Hope Bold Moves on Draft Day Will Lead to Future Success

3 Jul

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and Philadelphia Sunday Sun

The Sixers acquired Nerlens Noel in the deal that Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Sixers acquired Nerlens Noel in the deal that sent Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans.

PHILADELPHIA—When the 76ers announced they had traded Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans for the No. 6 pick, 6-foot-10-inch center Nerlens Noel, I thought it was the dumbest move they could have made.

Why, after all, why would you trade an All-Star for a player who’s never played a minute in the NBA? Also, especially in light of the Andrew Bynum debacle, why would you trade for a guy with a busted knee?

Noel, who looks like he needs to spend some time in the weight room, averaged 10 points and 9.5 rebounds per game during his first (and only) year at Kentucky.  Until he injured his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last March, he was projected to be the Number One pick.

Now mind you, Noel’s condition isn’t as degenerative as Bynum’s, but the idea of bringing in a guy with a bum knee does not engender much confidence from the Sixers fans that hooped and hollered at the Bynum trade, only to find that he was a dud.

Add to this, Noel isn’t expected to be back on the court before December if his rehabilitation is successful. By then, the Sixers will probably be in a familiar position: on the outside looking in as other teams compete for playoff spots.

To be fair, because the Sixers were going to be a young team whether GM Sam Hinkie had decided to build around Holiday or not, fans were going to be asked for their patience. The performance of a rookie is one of the NBA’s great unknowns.

But there are some bright spots…such as they are…

The biggest bonus of this trade is that the Sixers are approximately $15 million under the salary cap for this season. It’s expected that Hinkie will try to move other players like Evan Turner to clear even more space.

Also, to replace Holiday, the Sixers drafted Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who at 6-6 will be bigger than the some of the people that will be competing against him on both sides of the ball.

Sixers No.1 Draft choice Michael Carter-Wiilliams led Syracuse to the 2013 Final Four.

Sixers No.1 Draft choice Michael Carter-Wiilliams led Syracuse to the 2013 Final Four.

his final year with Syracuse, Carter-Williams averaged 11.8 points per game, 7.3 assists and nearly five rebounds per game. He was one of the big reasons the Orange was able to make a Final Four run in 2013.

Unlike Holiday, who still managed to average 17 points and seven assists with a bunch of mediocre to bad players, Carter-Williams will probably have some guys around him who can put the ball in the bucket so that he doesn’t have to score as much.

Despite starting for just one season, Carter-Williams broke the single-season school record for steals and finished his career with 292 assists, second only to Syracuse legend Sherman Douglas’s single-season number of 326 back in 1988-1989.

Looking at the numbers, the upside for Carter-Williams is pretty good. Having played in what is formerly the Big East Conference, Carter-Williams has had his share of high profile, high-pressure games.

The question is how all that will translate when it comes to the pro game. Some fans are still smarting from Turner’s lackluster play despite being the No. 2 pick in the 2010 draft.

Despite my initial criticism and the praise these moves have received from some people, we have no idea of how this is all going to turn out.  If by some miracle, everything the Sixers are doing somehow translates into the team making some noise and winning a title, Hinkie will never have to buy a drink in this town again.

But if it’s the same old Sixers, a bad to mediocre team that is a sure first-round knockout if it makes the playoffs at all, folks will look back on the Holiday trade as the impetus needed to come to the Wells Fargo Center with torches and pitchforks.

Well, look at it this way…the Sixers have a couple of No. 1 draft picks next year and the experts are predicting a much deeper draftee class in 2014. Hope they have their shopping lists ready…

Sixers Huge Comeback Stuns Boston, Evens Eastern Semis at 2-2

19 May

 

Lou Williams came up big for the Sixers in their win over the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

Whenever the Philadelphia 76ers have had a bad game in the playoffs, they’ve always found a way to bounce back in a series. Down to two games to one in their best of seven second-round series against the Boston Celtics, the Sixers were in another situation where they had to come hard to get back in it.

Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal against the Celtics, the Sixers streak of coming back from tough playoff losses was in serious jeopardy and they were on the verge of  being in a deep 3-1 hole in the best-of-seven series.

But the Sixers are not only alive, they are well and are back on even footing with the Celtics.

In a game where the Sixers were down 15-0 to start the game, shot an atrocious 23 percent (9-of-39) from the field after the first half and trailed by as many 18 points early in the third quarter, Doug Collins young team managed to somehow even their best of seven Eastern Conference semifinal with an amazing 92-83 comeback victory over the stunned Celtics in front of a packed house at the Wells Fargo Center.

“We’re never discouraged,” said Sixers forward Thaddeus Young. “We knew that when we shot that poorly that we couldn’t keep shooting that poorly. We just said keep doing what we been doing. When we shot like that in the first half, it wasn’t just jump shots. We were trying to get it in the paint and we had to keep imposing our will in the game. We had to keep following the game plan. It’s just a matter of making shots. We did a better job of getting ourselves more open in the second half than we did in the first.”

With his team on the brink of a deep 3-1 hole, Collins kept exhorting his team to hang in a game where inside baskets and going to the free-throw line was an adventure, bordering on a disaster movie for the Sixers  in the first half.

“I just kept telling our guys, ‘we’re going to keep battling,” Collins said. “Something’s good going to happen here…We came out in that fourth quarter and we executed. We moved the ball around, we didn’t turn the ball over and we made some big shots.”

The Sixers were able to bounce back in the second half thanks to their defense and their bench, especially with the starters struggling to find the basket. Sixers guard Louis Williams gave the Sixers a spark of the bench with his scoring 13 of his 15 points in the second half. He also had eight assists including a big dime to Andre Iguodala, who knocked down a three-point bucket to put the Sixers up by five points with a 36.9 left in the game. The Sixers closed the game on a 9-0 run.

“When we were bleeding, Lou has that capability,” Collins said. “Lou made some big shots and then he made a huge pass. He was shooting the ball so well that he got in the paint and he kicked it out to Dre (Iguodala) and put us up five.”

Rookie Lavoy Allen (eight points and 10 rebounds) and Young, who scored 12 points, pulled 10 rebounds and three assists, provided the muscle for the Sixers in the interior grabbing rebounds, playing defense and passing the ball on the offensive end. Thanks to Allen and Young, the Sixers managed to save several possessions by dominating the offensive boards out-rebounding Boston 17-5.

The Sixers also forced 17 turnovers and got 27 fast break points. In the third quarter, the Sixers knocked down that 18-point deficit by going a 15-2 scoring spurt to trail by just five with 5:22 left in the third quarter.

“They sped us up a little bit and we were taking quick shots,” said Celtics point Rajon Rondo. “I guess we made some turnovers in that stretch and they made shots.”

But Boston increased the deficit to nine with 4:07 left, but the Sixers closed out the quarter on a 10-5 spurt to cut the deficit to four going into fourth quarter.

“I thought coming out of halftime, really I thought they just came out and became more physical,” said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. “We took it away from ourselves, they took it away, too.We did more than settle for (jump shots) We stopped running our stuff.”

The much-maligned Iguodala also came up big for the Sixers, scoring 13 of his 16 points in the second half. He was 3-for-3 from three-point range including that dagger of a trey that put the Celtics away for good.

Reality Check: Sixers Hang With the Heat For Three Quarters Before Getting Knocked out in the Fourth

4 Feb

Andre Iguodala scored 10 points in loss to Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Sunday Sun.

The setting for Friday’s game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat at the Wells Fargo Center seemed more like the NBA’s postseason in April or May than a regular season game in early February.

One indication of the electricity in the air was the fact that there wasn’t an empty seat to be found as the Sixers sold out their home court for the first time this season.

While some fans undoubtedly came out to see Miami’s big three, the vast majority came out to see if the young Sixers could somehow pull out a win against one of the favorites to win the NBA Finals.

For the youthful Sixers, it was another chance to prove that they are among league’s best teams. Taking on the Heat’s superstar trio of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh wasn’t going to be an easy task for the Atlantic Division-leading Sixers (16-7).

As it turned out, the Sixers discovered that they still have a lot of growing and a lot of learning to do as the Heat (17-6) turned a close game into a devastating display of their awesome talent in their 99-79 victory over the upstart 76ers in front of 20, 694 disappointed fans.

For  the first three quarters  , the Sixers hung with the highly-touted Heat and tied the game at 61-61 on a jumper from the corner by rookie Lavoy Allen with 2:25 left in the third quarter. But from there, the Heat outscored the Sixers 38-18 the rest of the way and turned their homecourt into their own personal playground.

“We could never really make the push that we were hoping to be able to make,” said Sixers head coach Doug Collins. “Lebron hits one of those at the end of the third quarter that are momentum shots, puts them to four. We missed a couple of shots Mike Miller hits a three and a layup, so in three possessions we go from one to nine and then we’re playing uphill. They just overwhelmed us in the fourth quarter.”

The Heat came into the game with a chip on their shoulders after blowing a fourth quarter in a road loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday. There were no fourth quarter breakdowns against the Sixers.

“This was a very good win against a very good team that has been playing well,” said Miami head coach Erik Spoelestra.

Wade led the Heat with 26 points while James added 19 and Chris Bosh poured in 12. Players like Miller, who scored 12 points, Mario Chalmers (13 points) and rookie Norris Cole, who had 12 points were the ones hitting the shots that ultimately buried the Sixers in a hole from which they could not recover.

The Sixers were woefully inconsistent on the offensive end. They shot just 39 percent from the field and their seven turnovers led to 14 points for Miami. Power forward Elton Brand was held scoreless on 0-of-3 shooting. Thaddeus Young led all Sixers scorers with 16 points.

“It’s definitely a damper, but I’m looking at it like it was one bad quarter of basketball,” Brand said. “We were right there. It could have been a fight to the finish, but they got in the open court, got some layups, got some threes with Mike Miller and Cole hit a few threes. I think it was a bad quarter of basketball other than that, I think we’re fine. We just got tighten up the ship.”

Young said the most important lesson the Sixers got out of this loss is that they can’t afford momentary lulls in execution against a that knows how to make teams pay for their miscues. He said once Miami got it in gear they were difficult to stop.

“It tells us the that we have to minimize our mistakes,” Young said. “We have to take good shots and we have to make shots because those guys can crank it up any time. Once one gets going, it’s like one of those snowball effects where it keeps coming and keeps coming.”

 

 

Young Sixers Hope to Prove Themselves to Fans against NBA Heavyweights

26 Jan

Thaddeus Young and Sixers teammates will get tested against the NBA's elite. Photo by Webster Riddick.

By Chris Murray

For The Chris Murray Report and The Sunday Sun

The Philadelphia 76ers are in first place in the NBA’s Atlantic Division and are the only team in that division with a record above .500

But for all of the newfound success that this young team has had, I get the feeling that the city isn’t completely behind them yet. Don’t get me wrong. The fans that come out to Wells Fargo Center are loud and boisterous. But they’ve only had one sellout since the home opener.

That might be because the teams they’ve beaten for the most part are also-rans. This weekend, the Sixers take on the Charlotte Bobcats and the Detroit Pistons, teams that are hardly world beaters.

But the team’s big tests come later this week in the form of the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Chicago Bulls and the Orlando Magic, teams that are laden with superstars. While it’s been easy to have at least five guys routinely score in double figures, teams with actual defenses will determine whether or not this is a fluke.

Between Jan. 30 and Feb. 10 the Sixers will face the Magic, the Bulls, the Atlanta Hawks (on the road), the Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and an improved Los Angeles Clippers squad. If they can win at least half of these games, it might attract fans to the Wells Fargo Center.

But even if they don’t, this team still deserves some love from the Philly faithful.

While they may be in first place in their division, I still think the Sixers are a work in progress. As a part of that growth, they’re probably going to lose some of the games. But they’re not going to stink up the joint like they would have in years past…mostly because head coach Doug Collins won’t allow them to.

At this point, the Sixers are not expected to get to the NBA Finals or even the Eastern Conference Finals, but you have to like the unselfish way they’re playing this season. Almost every night a different player seems to lead the team in scoring or makes a big play down the stretch. One night it’s Andre Iguodala or Lou Williams.

“For one thing, we can score,” said Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday earlier this month after a win over the Indiana Pacers. “We know each other really well as a team and that’s really it. It’s our chemistry. We don’t really have a go-to guy. The way we win is by playing as a team and everybody scoring and playing defense collectively.”

With their record, the Sixers are beating up on the bad teams, something that good teams should do on a consistent basis. When they met the Miami Heat on the road last Saturday, they hung in the game until late in third quarter when the Heat went on a 23-8 scoring-spurt to put the Sixers in a deep hole.

This group of young Sixers is probably the best this city has seen in quite some time, at least to this point. That’s the fun part about this team is that they are at the beginning stages of becoming a perennial contender in the NBA.

To be sure, the Sixers are going to take their knocks against some of the league’s tougher teams, but I believe that this team will get better, whether it’s with young veteran players like Williams and Thaddeus Young, or via the trade or free agency route.

I can understand the cynics and skeptics in this city who want the Sixers to get to the point where they’re a contender for an NBA title. All I can say to them is be patient and enjoy the ride.

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