There is no question that the Sixers start has been a pleasant surprise. People in Philadelphia have started to take notice, and the once near empty Wells Fargo Center is now a very full arena. However, the 15-6 record that the Sixers brought into play Wednesday versus Chicago came with a caveat: they had played a phenomenally easy schedule, and hadn’t beaten a truly elite team.
That all changed in front of 18,325 fans who came out to support the start. The Bulls were bringing in the conference’s best record, and sported reigning MVP Derrick Rose at point guard. They were leading the league in rebounds per game, and despite not having one of their best players in Luol Deng, they were still a very, very formidable opponent.
And the Sixers didn’t just beat this top team, they really demolished them, especially after the break, when they outscored the Bulls 13-3 on a run in the third quarter. The excitement rose with every Lavoy Allen jumper and Andre Iguodala slam, and after the third quarter domination was over, the Sixers were able to take an insurmountable 20 point lead into the fourth. The Bulls wouldn’t get to within anything more than twelve the rest of the time, and Rose didn’t even get summoned off the bench by Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who was seemingly resigned to the result.
The best player on the court was the aforementioned Iguodala, who seems to of been embraced again by Sixer fans after being booed at times last year. He finished with 19 points, 9 boards, and six assists, and was clearly the best player on the court in his time out there. Another standout was rookie 2nd rounder Lavoy Allen, who went 7 of 10 from the field, including a handful of jumpers. Allen, rated last in this year’s version of player rankings by ESPN by a wide margin, sure isn’t playing like the worst player in the league, and the former Temple star appears to be one of the steals of the draft. “It feels good with the support we’re getting on the court. For me, I think I’m getting a lot of trust from my teammates,” Allen said after the game on his help from teammates.
Iguodala was focused on the task coming up, saying, “We, as a team, have to stay focused. We can’t get ahead of ourselves.” He is right, as the Sixers have a few more tough home games during this brutal stretch of good teams. It starts with the Heat on Friday, one of the few teams that can match the Sixers athletically, and has Lebron James, on pace for one of the best years ever.
Still, it is hard to argue with the Sixers results so far, and hard not to feel a little satisfied. The only disappointment that their fans had tonight was when Jrue Holiday didn’t shoot at the end and the Sixers only needed two points for the fans to go home with a free Big-Mac. When the very gimmicky confetti shot up (curiously they shoot it up, rather than dropping it down) nobody was thinking about the Miami Heat or the standings. Everyone was just enjoying and appreciating the wonderful and entertaining start be the Sixers.