Cautious Optimism

That's Royal Ivey (on the right) getting after a loose ball.

Why a title including 'Optimism'?

Because the 76ers didn't even play that well tonight. Really, they didn't. If they had played like they played in the last three quarters against the San Antonio Spurs, or like they played Tuesday night against the Houston Rockets, they'd have won by 15 points, going away. But they didn't. And they still won, 110-105.

Yeah, the Milwaukee Bucks aren't the Cleveland Cavaliers. But they are a decent Eastern Conference team playing in their home arena. Three weeks ago, the Sixers don't win this basketball game. But they did. Have I mentioned that? They beat the Bucks by five points in front of 13,381 people at the Bradley Center on a freezing, snowy Wisconsin evening. (I mention the attendance only because it appeared that only half of that announced crowd was actually, you know, in the crowd.)

Big Shots, Part II

We talked in this morning's blog about how the Sixers are finally making the big shots. And not just down the stretch, but throughout the game. Let's get the biggest of big shots out of the way: Andre Miller's three with 28.8 seconds left. Yeah, he rocked it.

That three is interesting because Tony DiLeo gave his guys a goal of five made three-pointers every game. Five? I know. I, too, thought "No way. Not going to happen." And maybe it won't, but tonight they made eight. Tony said he wants to take away the decision-making process from an open three-pointer. He felt up to this point, guys were thinking, "Should I? Shouldn't I?" And that hesitation in an outside shot significantly decreases the chances of making the shot. He said before the game that he is going to tell his guys over and over that shot MUST, if they are open, be taken. That way it becomes reaction, rhythm, flow -- all great things in the game of basketball.

Back to Miller. His three won this game. And he showed some emotion, too. Yelled, let out a scream, got fired up. Very unlike Miller. I liked it.

But here were a couple of other big shots: Both threes by Royal Ivey, the three by Lou Williams in the left corner. The jumper by Andre Iguodala on the right wing, the loose-ball dunk by Marreese Speights with about a minute left.

If you're a Sixers fan, you have to enjoy the way the Sixers have played the last two games.

Royal Ivey

If you appreciate the game of basketball, you have to enjoy the way Ivey plays. He's one of those players who, over the course of time, earns himself minutes. He just knows how to play the game. He thinks the game. Look at how he defended Charlie Bell at the end of tonight's game. Bell was intent on pump-faking Ivey into three foul shots. Ivey knew what Bell was going to try to do. He stood straight up and forced Bell to shoot over him. You'd see plenty of guys in the NBA go flying out there for a massive blocked shot and end up nailing Bell, hearing the whistle, and watching three (perhaps game-tying) foul shots.

That's Ivey's game right there. It's why he isn't a big name -- because he'll never be the Sports Center highlight with the big dunk or the timely swat. But if that's who he tried to be, he'd have been out of the league a long time ago.

I think that's the most space we've devoted to Ivey on this blog since the regular season started. And it coincides with him seeing his most important minutes since the regular season started.

So here the Sixers are: 15-20, with a game against the Charlotte Bobcats, at home, on Friday. And then a game against the Atlanta Hawks, away, on Sunday.

(Speaking of, who scheduled that Hawks game at 2 p.m. on Sunday? Some folks might want to watch the Eagles vs. Giants game. I can't think of who, but somebody, you know?)

We're going to do a Live Chat tomorrow. Actually, I suppose by the time this posts, it will be today (Thursday) at 3:30. If you have some time, click here: Sixers Chat.

It's been a while, because of this crazy travel schedule, and the shadow that is the Philadelphia Eagles, but we're going to try to start these up again.