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Baseline to Baseline recaps: The Sixers are legit

Feb 2, 2012, 5:52 AM EDT

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Sixers 98, Bulls 82: The 76ers are legit. That fast start wasn’t the soft schedule, they are a quality squad.

Good ball movement will beat even the best defense, and that’s what the story was here. They have balance — five guys with 14 points or more, Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young each had 19 — and you can’t defend it. They have a versatility, which let’s them select the matchup they want then pick-and-roll it all night. They don’t turn the ball over (but Chicago did). Philly controlled this game most of the way and the Bulls rested their starters the fourth quarter (Chicago was without Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton). Derrick Rose had 18, C.J. Watson had 20 off the bench.

Bucks 105, Heat 97: Miami scored 40 points in the first quarter — LeBron James had 23 alone (he finished with 40) — and the team shot 82 percent. Miami was up 16 points after 12 minutes. And the rout was on.

Except nobody told the Bucks. The Heat played their worst ball of the season in the final 36 minutes, particularly on the defensive end (although the turnovers were almost as bad). The Bucks to their credit didn’t just roll over. Milwaukee started the second half on a 13-2 run to make it close, then they started the fourth quarter on a 22-3 run to take a 17-point lead. Brandon Jennings had 20 points in the second half and had a monster game.

The Bucks made that entire run with Stephen Jackson on the bench, he only played in the first quarter (and got worn out by a hot LeBron). The Bucks now have beaten Miami twice this season.

Magic, 109, Wizards 103: After four straight losses Magic will take the win, even if they let the team with the worst offense in the NBA put up 103 on them. The Magic’s defense was bad (except on John Wall who hit just 1-of-12 shots but did have 10 assists). Their offense was good enough to counter it — Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson each had 23, J.J. Redick had 21.

Celtics 100, Raptors 64: If you type “what does a rout look like?” into Google, videos of this game should come up. Boston took over with a 16-1 run in the first quarter, Kevin Garnett played just 5 minutes in the second half.

Nets 99, Pistons 96: The Nets had the best player on the floor by far in Deron Williams, he had 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter. In a game like this — a bucket of slop — having the best player gets you the win.

Pacers 109, Timberwolves 99: The first half saw a display of what you can call good defense or bad shooting, depending on if you’re a glass half full guy or not. The second half was the Danny Granger show, as he had 27 of his 36 points after the break — plus a little dustup with Kevin love — to lead the Pacers to the win.

Thunder 95, Mavericks 86: The Thunder had their best defensive game of the season — Serge Ibaka le the way with 10 blocks and the OKC defense held the Mavericks to 35.7 percent shooting on the night. That was the story. Russell Westbrook had 12 of his 33 in the fourth quarter.

Suns 120, Hornets 103: Steve Nash returned after missing several games with a thigh injury and exploded for 30 points and 10 assists to lead Phoenix to a win.

Spurs 99, Rockets 91: Houston led by as many as 19 and seemed in control until an 11-0 run made it close midway through the third. San Antonio closed the game on a 12-2 run to get the win. Tim Duncan had 16 third quarter points to lead that charge and Tony Parker had 11 in the second half as well (they were the only Spurs in double figures for the game). The Spurs spread the floor with shooters in the second half and with them knocking down shots the Rockets could not keep up.

Trail Blazers 112, Bobcats 68: Man, the Bobcats are terrible. Just awful. It’s really hard to describe.

Clippers 107, Jazz 105: The Clippers have beaten Denver in Denver, Oklahoma City, and now Utah in Utah within a week. They are legit and getting better each game. The Clips executed better down the stretch, thanks in large part to Chris Paul, who had 12 of his 34 in the fourth quarter and was masterful. Blake Griffin had 31 points, 14 boards and three blocks. Al Jefferson had 27 for the Jazz, who got a good amount of points but could not stop the Clipper offense, which is a juggernaut.

  1. kvanhorn87 - Feb 2, 2012 at 7:10 AM

    Without one of their big men back to stop Bosh, Friday night is going to be tough. Brand and Allen have really stepped up. Usually, this is a game where the Sixers will fall flat. Young team starts getting credit, it goes to their head. Friday night could be a determining game for the Sixers run. Add legitimacy, add Howard.

  2. jblah - Feb 2, 2012 at 7:49 AM

    the sixers are a solid team. but they are still a season or 2 away from being real contenders. they need that big guy in the middle to stop people like lebron. I’m glad they beat the bulls but the bulls don’t have that one big strong guy that miami does. but i’m encouraged by allen.

  3. jucam1 - Feb 2, 2012 at 8:18 AM

    The Sixers were hoping to win one of these three games and they’ve destroyed both the Bulls and the Magic….. The Heatles are tough and Philly will prob lose without their big men, but I love this team and how they’re playing for DC!

    • trueballs - Feb 2, 2012 at 8:28 AM

      Chris Bosh routinely get’s bullied by 6’9″ small forwards and Wade will have his hands full with those guards …Philly (or D.C.?) will win it.

      • tcclark - Feb 2, 2012 at 9:10 AM

        I think he means Doug Collins, not Washington D.C

    • tcclark - Feb 2, 2012 at 9:09 AM

      I don’t know if the lack of big men plays much of a factor on this game. The Heat aren’t a threat at the center position and Bosh and Haslem can be guarded by Brand, Young, and Allen without it being a mismatch. Bosh has a significant height advantage on Young, but Thad is really active on Defense and it has bothered Bosh in the past.

      This game will come down to Jrue and Dre. Those two are going to be in charge of defending Lebron and Wade. Jrue in particular is going to have to have a good game in order to slow down Wade. Turner is also going to have to come in and play solid defense against each one of them.

      Expect to see a lot of small lineups tomorrow night and if Meeks doesn’t hit his shot early he will not play much at all. He needs to improve his defense. Korver was killing him last night.

      • willardj - Feb 2, 2012 at 12:08 PM

        Chris bosh is a pretty huge mismatch. Brand wasn’t able to get out to cover his jump shots and he dropped 30+ against the Sixers in the first game.

      • tcclark - Feb 2, 2012 at 12:46 PM

        with Wade back, he becomes less of a focal point, so the ball won’t be coming his way as much. It is one of the few ways that having Wade back in the line-up hurts the Heat. He also scored below his average for the year against the Sixer last year, so the last game is probably more of an outlier than anything else.

        Plus Brand will be playing a lot at the 5 spot. Bosh will be guarded mostly by Thad Young and Lavoy Allen. Dwayne Wade is going to be the match up problem for Philadelphia. He’s too fast for almost anyone on the roster.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 2, 2012 at 9:36 AM

      The bad news for the Sixers is that the Heat blew that game in Milwaukee last night. I would have rather had them coming in with a 6 game winning streak and flying high. Now they are coming in pissed off and the motivation to knock the Sixers down a notch. But with the way the Sixers beat the Bulls, I think they are legitimately in the discussion of the top 3 in the East. I don’t think they have a shot to beat the Heat in 7 games, whether they win tomorrow night or not. Either way, I’ll be there.

      To me, the most important player on the team is Thad Young. He plays with so much energy, has a good shot when he is on, and can be one of those x-factor guys.

  4. tcclark - Feb 2, 2012 at 8:28 AM

    Weren’t you just saying that because of the losses to the Nuggets and the Heat that the Sixers weren’t
    legit? hmmmmm….

  5. illcomm - Feb 2, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    Tomorrow nights game will be typical heat. Come out running n gunning and they lose energy down the stretch. Sixers winning by 15. 105-90

    • b7p19 - Feb 2, 2012 at 10:57 AM

      I hope you’re right. Unfortunately, if the Heat play their best game there isn’t a team in the universe that can beat them. It’s never good when you go into a game thinking “if they just have an off game we can be good enough to win.” I’m guessing a back and forth three quarters with the Heat talent taking over in the 4th for a 10 point win.

    • edweird0 - Feb 2, 2012 at 2:59 PM

      LOL ‘typical heat’? You and I have clearly been watching two different teams. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure you guys will keep it competitive but that will only hurt you in the long run; come crunch time, the Heat is gunna take over.

  6. halflight420 - Feb 2, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    Im a huge 76ers fan, but i still can’t shake my uneasy feeling about this time, like honestly the bulls gave up after the third quarter yesterday and i think bulls heat and maybe even hawks beat the 76ers everytime in a 7 game series, i hope i am wrong tho, i am just still apprehensive

  7. asublimeday - Feb 2, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Miami fans shutting up for a few days? Priceless.

    • edweird0 - Feb 2, 2012 at 3:05 PM

      Whose shutting up? You think losing to the bucks really means anything other than they got complacent? Great teams lose to crappy teams ALL THE TIME. That’s what makes this sport so special, any team can come in and win meaningless games on any given night just because.

  8. asublimeday - Feb 2, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    Can we stop trying to draw conclusions about a Bulls team missing two starters? Healthy deng and they beat the heat by 15 and the slicers by 10

    • edweird0 - Feb 2, 2012 at 3:10 PM

      “Healthy deng and they beat the heat by 15…”

      Alotta good he did you in the playoffs. That’s a pretty wide margin, when have their games ever been that lop sided?

  9. asublimeday - Feb 3, 2012 at 2:21 AM

    Uh, game one of the playoffs last year the bulls took the heat to the watershed.

    Yes, I’m aware of the eventual result of the series but you asked so I told

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