Let's be honest, while tonight's game against the Los Angeles Clippers will go down as a 'W', it was not a step in the right direction for the 76ers.
It would be easy to toss around the phrase, "A win is a win," but that would be like eating candy for breakfast: Sure, it tastes good at the time, but you know there will be consequences. And for these Sixers, if they don't treat tonight's game like a loss, it might come back to haunt them.
Here are the facts: The Clippers are 2-10. Only hours before game time, the Clippers traded two of their top five scorers: Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas. So let me get this straight, the 76ers, playing at home, needed a rattled-in 15-foot jump shot from Elton Brand with 57 seconds left to beat one of the NBA's worst teams, who were made even worse without two -- two -- of their best players? That is not cause for pats on the back. Not if your a team supposedly pointing towards the playoffs.
Things just don't feel right out there for the Sixers. And by "things" I mean rhythm, flow, cohesion -- all of the attributes that make five good basketball players a good basketball team. Nobody is denying that the pieces of the puzzle exist within the Sixers roster. There are enough to build a playoff basketball team.
Glaring problem: Too many Sixers are trying to be players they aren't. Food for thought.
1.) Andre Miller has taken the second-most field goals on the team. 2.) Andre Iguodala is trying to prove he can shoot from the perimeter. 3.) Lou Williams is stuck between having a single-minded focus -- scoring -- and learning how to be a point guard. 4.) Elton Brand is trying to be the No. 1 main guy, all the time. Is he feeling the pressure? What do the Sixers need from him?
The Sixer who does not appear to be pressing: Thaddeus Young. After the game, we asked Thad about scoring 14 first-half point and then not getting a shot until 5:50 left in the third, and barely touching the ball in the second half. Thad said, "Let's get this straight, I don't ever get plays called for me. I just go out there and play basketball."
Hmmmmm ... that seems like a philosophy the rest of the Sixers might bend an ear towards.
Ok. There were a few good things tonight. Right? Weren't there?
1.) Like always, Young was a bright spot. If you're a Sixer fan, you can't be upset for long knowing this kid is on your team. 2.) Even though they should never have been in the position, the Sixers did show resiliency in overcoming that late-game hole and winning this game. 3.) Once again, Iguodala was aggressive at the end of the game: His three-point play was key.
Elton Brand: "It was disappointing after the Minnesota game. We had a nice lead and let them back, same as we did tonight. We just had to pick it up as a team. We just needed a victory and that's what we got."
(Of note: Tonight's postgame was the second time I've heard Brand mention the "struggles" of the second unit -- and "struggles" is a kind interpretation of Brand's less-than-glowing comments about the second unit. This game changed momentum once Mo Cheeks started making substitutions towards the end of the first quarter. Previously, the Sixers were up as much as 14 points. No doubt, the second unit of Lou Williams, Reggie Evans, etc. is playing poorly ... But I'm not sure if tossing the second unit under the bus will be a winning formula.)
Maurice Cheeks on the lack of energy: "You can get deflated. You can be playing defense hard and the other team gets the offensive rebound, scores on the fast break, gets a fast break, gets a steal or a run and it will deflate you a little bit. Our guys hung in there though."
Cheeks on the Sixers non-existent half-court offense: "Tonight our half court offense was not smooth. When or half court offense is not smooth and our transition baskets are not going we have a tough time. While we pushed the ball up the floor we didn't get a lot of transition baskets. We really need to work on our half court offense and we won't have that many turnovers."
No, it wasn't pretty ... But a win is a win?