The game of basketball should be played where the ball goes inside and then comes out. You need a big man around the basket to make this happen, a player who can score, rebound and close down the lane defensively.
Andrew Bynum can do all those things.
The Philadelphia 76ers have acquired Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team blockbuster trade. The Sixers also received shooting guard Jason Richardson. In the process, the Sixers traded All-Star guard and Olympian Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets, Nikola Vucevic to the Orlando Magic and Maurice “Moe” Harkless, this year’s first round draft pick, to the Magic.
The Lakers received a huge package in all-star center Dwight Howard and Orlando got Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington from Denver, and one protected first round selection from each of the three teams involved with the deal.
The Sixers will miss Iguodala’s spectacular play in the open court and his defense. Ironically, Iguodala’s debut as a Nugget will be against the Sixers on Oct. 31 in Philadelphia for the team’s home opener.
However, they now have Bynum, a 7-foot, 280-pounder who is one of the top players in the NBA. With Howard now in the West, Bynum immediately becomes the best big man in the East. Bynum, who grew up in Plainsboro, N.J., is only 24 years old after entering the NBA right out of high school as the 10th pick of the Lakers in 2005. He was a McDonald’s All-American when he played at St. Joseph’s High School in Metuchen, N.J.
He has already won two NBA championships (2009, 2010) with the Lakers. He made the all-star team for the first time last season, averaging 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds a game while leading the Lakers to playoffs.
The Sixers defeated the Lakers on Feb. 2 in Philadelphia, 95-90. But Bynum was terrific in that contest, tallying 20 points, 20 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 assists. The Sixers should revolve their offense around him. Obviously, teams will collapse on him inside, but that’s exactly what you want. This way he can kick the ball back out to players like Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Nick Young, Dorell Wright and Jason Richardson for easy shots on the perimeter.
Philly should be able to climb the ladder in the Eastern Conference with him. Miami won the NBA championship in the spring. But the Sixers just got a whole lot closer with Bynum in the middle.
The Sixers finished in the eighth spot in the conference. They defeated the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs with Chicago missing two of its top players for most of the series in Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. The Sixers were very impressive in the Eastern Conference semifinals too, losing to the Boston Celtics in seven games.
Bynum could take them to the next level. After Miami, you have the Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks and the Brooklyn Nets as the teams to watch. The Sixers are right there.
There aren’t a lot of dominant centers in the NBA today. The Sixers have one of them. Philly’s best teams have been the ones with outstanding centers. In 1966–67, the Sixers won the NBA championship with Wilt Chamberlain in the middle. In 1982–83, the team had center Moses Malone, which helped it capture an NBA title.
Bynum has already won two NBA crowns. He played with some great players such as Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and others. Nevertheless, he knows how to win and that should really help the Sixers.
Of course Bynum is in the final year of his contract and will be looking for a big deal. The Sixers could offer him a reported $100 million over five years. The Sixers should have a good chance to re-sign him.
He’s worth the investment.
When Derrick Rose went down with a season ending injury in the first game of the Philadelphia 76ers-Chicago Bulls best of seven first-round NBA playoff series, some people believed the Sixers would now cruise the rest of the way in this quarterfinal matchup. Rose, the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player, has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and is done for the rest of this season and likely most of next year. His absence on the floor should help the Sixers, but fans should keep in mind the ability of teams to rally once they lose a star player.
If you’re a true Sixers fan, you remember 1980 when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar got hurt and missed Game 6 of the NBA championship series because of an ankle injury. Well, that’s the game when Magic Johnson, then a rookie, put on a magnificent performance. Johnson had 42 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and three steals to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 123-117 win over the Sixers. As a result, the Lakers ended up winning the league championship.
The only difference is that was one game. It would have been interesting to see how the Lakers would have responded if Abdul-Jabbar had missed the entire series. Nevertheless, Rose’s injury does change a lot of things.
Rose is one of the most explosive players in the NBA. The Bulls all-star guard averaged 21.8 points, 7.9 assists and 3.4 rebounds a game this season. He had 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in Chicago’s 103-91 victory over the Sixers on Saturday.
Now, the Bulls will have to play backup point guards C.J. Watson and John Lucas III against Jrue Holiday, Sixers 6-foot-4 playmaker. Holiday should have a big advantage against Watson and Lucas. However, Watson did play extremely well in an 89-80 victory over the Sixers on March 17. He had a game-high 20 points that night.
Without Rose, Chicago is pretty much left with a group of role players, which include 6-foot-7 Luol Deng, 6-foot-9 Carlos Boozer, 6-foot-7 Ronnie Brewer, 6-foot-7 Richard Hamilton, 6-foot-11 Joakim Noah and 6-foot-9 Taj Gibson. None of these players are superstars at this point in their careers. The Sixers should be able to matchup with Holiday, 6-foot-6 Andre Iguodala, 6-foot-7 Evan Turner, 6-foot-9 Elton Brand, 6-foot-1 Lou Williams and 6-foot-8 Thaddeus Young.
Holiday had 16 points and seven rebounds in game one. Brand was very impressive, scoring a team-high 19 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
The big thing with the Sixers is they have to do a better job on the boards and play better on defense. They have to force as many turnovers as possible. They need to get out and run whenever the opportunity presents itself. In spite of Rose not being there, the Sixers style of play shouldn’t change.
The Sixers will face the Bulls on Tuesday night, May 1 at 8 p.m. in what should be a very interesting Game 2 of this series. They could definitely use a win to shift the momentum with Games 3 and 4 at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday, May 4 and Sunday, May 6.
Rose missed 27 games this season. The Bulls were 18-9 without him. They know how to win without Rose. The Sixers have to remember and come with the same intensity as if Rose were still there.
The Philadelphia 76ers will have a chance to show the NBA exactly how good they are this week. The Sixers will be playing some of the best teams in the league over the next nine days beginning Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls at Wells Fargo Center.
The Sixers will play six teams with winning records and five of those games will be at home. After they play the Bulls, the Sixers will battle the Miami Heat on Friday night, February 3 at Wells Fargo Center. Last season, the Sixers lost to the Heat in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Miami cruised through the postseason, eventually losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals.
Immediately following the Heat, Philly will travel down to Atlanta to face the Hawks, a team they defeated two weeks ago, but still a formidable opponent. Then, they come home for a tough slate of games with the Los Angeles Lakers on February 6, San Antonio Spurs on February 8 and Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 10.
The Sixers lead the NBA’s Atlantic Division. The team doesn’t have anyone who averages 20 points a game but it does have balanced scoring with shooting guard Lou Williams (15.7 ppg) leading the way. Jrue Holiday, Sixers point guard, is averaging 14.7 points and 4.6 assists a game. Andre Iguodala has been playing a great all-around game tallying 12.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists a game. Evan Turner, Sixers second-year guard, has performed well off the bench, averaging 10.1 points a game. Thaddeus Young has run the floor and scored inside as well as outside while averaging 12.1 points a game. Up front, Elton Brand has been consistent averaging 10.9 points a game.
Despite their early season success, the Sixers will be challenged. They will be facing a number of stars coming this week and next week. The Bulls will bring in Derrick Rose, who won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award last year. Rose is averaging 22.9 points and 7.8 assists a game.
The Heat will showcase their big three with LeBron James (29.5 ppg, 7.0 apg), Chris Bosh (21.4 ppg, 8.0 rpg) and Dwyane Wade (19.9 ppg). Miami is a major attraction. They are the NBA’s most talked about team, particularly with James, a huge candidate to win MVP.
The Sixers visit the Hawks. They will battle some terrific players such as Joe Johnson (18.6 ppg), Josh Smith (15.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg) and Jeff Teague (13.0 ppg, 5.2 apg) in a big road game.
Kobe Bryant will make his annual appearance with the Lakers. Bryant is averaging 30.2 points, 5.6 assists and 1.2 steals a game. The Lakers also have a strong frontcourt with Pau Gasol (16.6 ppg) and Andrew Bynum (16.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg).
San Antonio comes in with power forward Tim Duncan, who at 35 still remains one of the league’s top players. Duncan is averaging 12.8 points and 7.6 rebounds a game. The 14-year NBA veteran can still play the game. Tony Parker, Spurs point guard, is averaging 17.3 points and 7.6 assists a game.
The Clippers will be in town with Blake Griffin, who is one of the most exciting players in the NBA. Griffin is averaging 21.0 points and 11.3 rebounds a game. Chris Paul, Clippers backcourt ace, is tallying 17.4 points and 8.5 assists a game.
The Sixers will be playing some outstanding teams. In addition, there should be some great crowds at all the games. For Sixers fans, this should be an exciting time.
CHICAGO — There wasn't much for Jrue Holiday to improve on in this game, except maybe one thing.
"I could have been 15 for 15," he said.
Holiday didn't hit all his shots. It just seemed like it.
Holiday scored 26 points, Lou Williams added 20 and the Philadelphia 76ers beat Chicago 109-92 on Tuesday night to even their first-round series at 1-1 in the Bulls' first game since Derrick Rose's season-ending knee injury.
The superstar point guard received a standing ovation and waved to the crowd as he limped onto the court to present the game ball, then watched from a suite as the 76ers blitzed the Bulls in the third quarter.
"I can't tell you how exciting it is to come into Chicago and get a playoff win here on the road for our team," coach Doug Collins said. "It was a great, great night."
The Sixers outscored Chicago 36-14 in the period, turning an eight-point deficit into an 83-69 lead against the league's top-seeded team.
Game 3 is Friday in Philadelphia.
"This game we caught fire and it was pretty hard to put it out," Holiday said.
All the Bulls could do was shake their heads and vow to do better.
"Disappointed," Chicago's Joakim Noah said. "Disappointing effort overall. We didn't play well defensively. We didn't play well offensively."
Holiday was 11 of 15 from the field, and the Sixers shot 59 percent overall. Williams came up big, going 8 of 13 after hitting just 1 of 6 shots in the opener, and Chicago product Evan Turner chipped in with 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Noah led the Bulls with 21 points and eight rebounds. John Lucas III scored 15 points, but Carlos Boozer scored just nine and Luol Deng finished with eight. More alarming, the Bulls simply couldn't stop the Sixers, particularly in the third quarter.
"We kind of let our offense affect our defense," Richard Hamilton said.
The Sixers were leading 68-61 midway through the quarter after a 12-0 run that Elton Brand started with a foul-line jumper. Then, after a basket by C.J. Watson, Andre Iguodala threw down a thunderous one-handed dunk over Deng for a three-point play that drew plenty of oohs, aahs and groans from a crowd that could feel the game slipping away.
Things didn't get much better for Chicago after that.
The 76ers continued to pour it on, with Iguodala delivering another vicious dunk late in the quarter and then hitting Williams with an alley-oop pass that made it 83-69 heading into the fourth.
"For the first time in a long time our defense dictated our offense," Iguodala said. "We rebounded the ball. Evan and myself pushed it out on the break and we finished pretty well. It started with that in the third quarter."
It added up to a rough night for the Bulls, who were in a familiar spot with Rose sidelined again — this time after tearing the ACL in his left knee late in Game 1.
He missed 27 games during the regular season because of a variety of ailments, and the Bulls did just fine, going 18-9. Throw in injuries to Hamilton and Deng, and they were able to go with their projected starting five just 15 times, yet they still captured homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs for the second straight season.
That's why they insist they can still make a run, even with Rose out. They won without him before. They insist their championship hopes didn't end when he went down.
"It's different (without Rose)," Noah said. "There's no excuses, though. We know we can play better. It's disappointing, but you know what? We live to fight another day. There's a lot of basketball to play."
Notes: The Sixers shuffled their lineup from Game 1, with Turner starting for Jodie Meeks and C Spencer Hawes for Lavoy Allen. ... Scottie Pippen says the Bulls still are the team to beat even without Rose. In an open letter to the team posted Tuesday on the Bulls' website, Pippen wrote, "You're still the best team in the NBA until an opponent proves otherwise." The Hall of Famer also compared the loss of Rose to Michael Jordan's first retirement and pointed out the 1993-94 team won 55 games. Pippen said the Bulls "believed in ourselves" and never "felt sorry for ourselves." ... Chicago's Tom Thibodeau finished second in the Coach of the Year voting to San Antonio's Gregg Popovich after winning the award last season. -- (AP)
The postseason is where the cream rises to the top. Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers point guard, has played extremely well in the Sixers first round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls. Holiday has led the Sixers to a 3-1 lead in the series with an opportunity to close the Bulls out with a victory on Tuesday night, May 8 in Chicago at the United Center (Comcast Sportsnet, 9:30 p.m.).
The 6-foot-4, 180-pounder, leads the team in playoff scoring. He’s averaging 19.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists a game. In Sunday’s 89-82 win over the Bulls, Holiday, who struggled offensively throughout most of the game, never gave up on his shot. He connected on two three-pointers late to give the Sixers a cushion down the stretch.
“I’m so proud of Jrue,” said Doug Collins, Sixers head coach. “He has a coach that has no conscious when it comes to shooting. That’s one thing I tried to in part with our team. If you have a shot, you have to take it. Jrue was 0-for the world and hit two huge threes … that’s the kind of growth I like to see from our young guys, don’t fear the consequences. If you miss, you miss.”
That’s exactly the way Holiday has been playing in these playoffs. Of course, the Bulls are playing without star guard Derrick Rose, who is out for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee. Joakim Noah, Bulls power forward, missed Game 4 with a sprained ankle. In spite of the Bulls misfortune, this has been a huge coming out party for Holiday. The playoffs have a way of doing that. Holiday has stepped up in a big way. He was shooting 1-for-14 at one point in Sunday’s game. For the game, he shot 7-for-23 from the field. Statistics don’t always tell the whole story because the two three-pointers came at such a crucial point in the game.
“Coach Collins has a lot to do with that,” Holiday said. “He tells me every game if I’m not shooting to keep on shooting. I think as everybody knows, he was a scorer. So, he understands. It came down the stretch and hit some big shots.”
Collins was a terrific scorer during his playing days with the Sixers. He played with some outstanding players such as Julius Erving, George McGinnis, World B. Free (then Lloyd Free), Joe Bryant, Steve Mix, Caldwell Jones and Darryl Dawkins. That was during the 1970s. The Sixers were a powerhouse in the NBA.
This team isn’t at that level yet. They’re still very young with players like Holiday, Evan Turner, Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young. This is Holiday’s third NBA season. In 2009, he was the 17th pick in the first round of the NBA draft. Holiday was a McDonald’s All-American coming out of Campbell High School in Chatsworth, Calif., right near Los Angeles. He played one season at UCLA where he played alongside Darren Collison in the backcourt. Collison plays for the Indiana Pacers, who are leading their series with the Orlando Magic. Holiday played just one season with the Bruins before he left school for the draft.
Holiday comes from a basketball family. His brother Justin played his college basketball at the University of Washington. Moreover, he has learned a lot about the game from Jerome “Pooh” Richardson, former Ben Franklin High, UCLA and NBA standout. Richardson was a big time player for the Bruins. Holiday keeps in touch with the ex-Public League standout.
In addition, Aaron McKie, Sixers assistant coach, has worked very closely with Holiday. McKie, a former Simon Gratz, Temple and Sixers standout, has helped Holiday polish his game.
Holiday is a real smooth ball player. You can see the way he slithers to the basket and pulls up for his jumpshot. He doesn’t get flustered on the court. That’s important, especially now. The Sixers are just one game away from winning their first playoff series in nine years (2003) when they defeated the New Orleans Hornets in six games. Holiday doesn’t have a lot of playoff experience. The Sixers lost to the Miami Heat in five games last year.
“This is new for me,” Holiday said. “It’s my first time experiencing this. I’m excited. The next game we played we have to play like it’s Game 7. We have to play like our backs are against the wall or like it’s do or die. We want to win in Chicago and go from there. We would like to get some rest before the next round.”
If the Sixers can continue to play well, the next round isn’t that far away.
The Philadelphia 76ers are heading into another tough stretch where they will be playing some of the best teams in the NBA. This is a very important part of the Sixers’ schedule. The Sixers are coming off a rough loss to Indiana on Wednesday, and the Pacers look like one of the league’s most improved teams.
The Sixers host the powerful Miami Heat on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers are 0-2 against the Heat this season. On Wednesday Miami just dropped a close decision to the Chicago Bulls, who were playing without Derrick Rose, the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player. The Sixers will be tested against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. It’d be good if they could get a win over the Heat. The Sixers have played them as well as just about anybody in the league. In addition, it would be nice to get another quality victory over one of the league’s elite teams.
After the Sixers play Miami, the team goes on the road to face the Chicago Bulls. The Sixers do have an early season victory over the Bulls. Chicago won the last meeting at the Wells Fargo Center two weeks ago. Rose, who has been battling a sore groin, could be back when the Sixers play at Chicago on Saturday night, March 17.
The Sixers have been playing some good basketball overall. They’ve won three out of their last four games, which includes a big win over the Boston Celtics. Boston is just a game and a half behind the Sixers in the Atlantic Division. Philly leads the division with a 25-18 record.
Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, has pushed all the right buttons. He recently moved Evan Turner into the starting lineup, and Turner has been fantastic in his new role in the backcourt. He has played well with Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday.
Tuner, a 6-foot-7 guard, has played shooting guard and point guard. He’s averaging 17.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists a game since the move. His size has created a lot of matchup problems for opposing teams. He’s playing with a lot more confidence.
Spencer Hawes, Sixers center, has returned after being out for an extended period of time with a strained left Achilles tendon injury. Hawes, a 7-foot-1, 245-pounder, played 20 minutes against the Pacers. He had six points and two rebounds. Hawes is working his way back into shape. He should be a factor up front for the Sixers.
Lou Williams continues to be the Sixers leading scorer off the bench. Williams is averaging 15.9 points a game. He should be a major candidate for the NBA’s Sixth Man Award. The Sixers shooting guard will be needed in this stretch. He can create his own shot and connect from long range.
The Sixers could go a long way toward building a stronger foundation with wins over Miami and Chicago. That may sound like a lot and it probably is, but at some point you’re going to play one of these teams in the playoffs. It would be good to pick up some extra momentum with wins over two of the NBA’s top teams.