After tonight's 107-97 win over the Indiana Pacers, a game in which Elton Brand scored 23 points on 9 for 21 shooting, 76ers coach Eddie Jordan said Brand has officially returned to form.
"We know where he is now," Jordan said. "He’s the guy that Ed Stefanski thought he would be – knew he would be. He just had to get his feet under him. We’ve all been in the league long enough to know you milk a guy like that."
Brand played well tonight, although that seems like a bold statement from Jordan confirming Brand's 5-year, $80-million contract as now justified. Nice little plug from Jordan for Sixers General Manager Ed Stefanski.
Sixers are playing much better and the lineup switch appears to have helped. Sitting here tonight in Conseco Fieldhouse, I overheard some NBA scouts talking about Thaddeus Young. They confirmed what a lot of fans have noticed: Young is a better off-the-bench player. They were saying how Young isn't the guy you want on the floor if you're trying to execute, that he's much better suited to popping off the bench, grabbing rebounds, running in transition, and giving you energy.
Considering Brand's mid-range game has really come along (and he had 4 assists tonight!), the switch of Brand for Young really has been the most effective move Jordan has made.
After the game, Jordan also raved about Allen Iverson, saying he's the heart and soul and the spirit of this team. Jordan also said he's been waiting for a long time to coach a guy like Iverson. It's tough to say a guy who's played less than half your games, and came two months into the season, and was traded from the franchise three years prior, is the heart and soul and spirit of a team that made it to the playoffs the two seasons prior. Seems like that might be tough to swallow for the players who've been around.
Regardless, looking at the last two games -- and not to get too optimistic because that has proven to be a mistake with this team -- the Sixers are playing a lot better and appear to be onto something with the lineup shift.
If the Sixers can beat the Pacers -- again -- on Monday night at the Wachovia Center, that will give them a season-high winning streak of three games. Yes, two of those wins would be over the Pacers, but it would still be a flurry of winning compared to anything else we've seen.