The standard set for last night was a victory. Sure, it would have been nice if the 76ers won by about 12-15 points. But, considering they lost to the Charlotte Bobcats in November by 10 points, considering the Bobcats beat the Celtics earlier this week, considering the Sixers can’t care how they win – only that they win – the goal was merely to go from 15-20 to 16-20.
Done. 93-87, Sixers over Bobcats.
The Sixers won this game with that 8-0 burst from about 7:40 to 5:30 in the third quarter. Until then, this game had the feel of that Indiana Pacers’ game on Dec. 20 – a game the Sixers lost. Whether this is legitimate improvement (I believe it is) or just a bad opponent (I disagree), the Sixers managed to win a game they would have lost earlier this season. I wish I thought it necessary to break down this game like some previous, but honestly, I don’t think it’s worth it. If I’m the Sixers, I quickly turn my attention to tomorrow’s game in Hot-lanta. Against the Hawks.
This game, and the two after, is going to take more than just a smattering of focus, one quick burst, and then hold on until the end (that’s my assessment of last night).
Let’s look at why.
The Hawks are really good. And worse: They just got absolutely crushed by the Orlando Magic (if I weren’t on a flight to Atlanta right now, I’d check the score, but it was about a 35-point loss to the Magic). Forget catching Atlanta off-guard. Forget sneaking into Atlanta on a Sunday afternoon and pulling one out from under them. This would have been unlikely anyway. Now it’s impossible. If the Sixers are going to win, they are going to have to play exceptionally well. Think … last three quarters of the San Antonio game.
It’s difficult in the NBA to predict how a team might play. Last night’s performance would be a 15-point loss in Atlanta, but over an 82-game season sometimes you need to exert just enough energy to win a game. That’s what the Sixers did.
Forget the early-November loss to the Hawks (you know, the one where the Sixers blew that 20-something-point first-half lead and lost). That couldn’t be less relevant at this point. More later …