The Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 104-87, on Wednesday night. Combined with a Milwaukee Bucks loss to the Washington Wizards (for a recap of that game see this from FanSided sister site Behind the Buck Pass), the Sixers are one step closer to securing a playoff spot, for better or worse. The turning point came when the Sixers launched a 24-2 run in the third quarter, mainly spearheaded by Jrue Holiday. Previously, the game had been tied at 57.
It really was Jrue Holiday’s night. He did what he likes to do well – taking a lot of jumpers. Sadly, performances like this are not sustainable, as he’s not going 6-6 from behind the three point line every game. He also failed to attempt a free throw on his way to 24 points. He seriously needs to get to the line more, but his sharp shooting saved his night. If he shot as he normally does, it wouldn’t be seen as a great game at all.
As I mentioned in the game preview, I wanted Lavoy Allen or Sam Young to get some playing time, because fresh legs always helps. Well, Lavoy got 29 more minutes than he’s seen in weeks, and while he wasn’t incredibly productive (4 points, 5 boards, 5 assists in 29 minutes), he engineered a hostile takeover of playing time from Nikola Vucevic and possibly Spencer Hawes. Young only received PT in garbage time, but Andre Iguodala played well enough to warrant keeping him in the game for nearly every meaningful minute.
Last night’s game ended the second of the Sixers’ back-to-back-to-back stretches, with a combined record of 3-3 (2-1 on the first, 1-2 on this one). All of the losses came to teams currently ahead of the Sixers in the current NBA standings, so that’s not too much to be ashamed of.
The more important development last night was Milwaukee’s loss to Washington in a very winnable game. That puts them 2.5 games behind the Sixers and lowers the Sixers’ magic number to 2. Some combination of Sixers wins and Bucks losses that adds up to 2 will result in a playoff berth for the second consecutive year and a likely battle with the Bulls.