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.
Fran Dunphy, Temple’s head basketball coach, has been watching the Philadelphia 76ers-Chicago Bulls playoff series very closely. Dunphy has been watching one of his former players, Lavoy Allen, receive a great deal of playing time for the Sixers in the postseason.
Allen, former Temple standout, put on quite a show tallying 11 points and nine rebounds off the bench to help the Sixers defeat the Bulls, 109-92 on Tuesday, evening the playoff series at 1-1. The 6-foot-9 power forward is just a rookie, but played like a season veteran in the second game. Allen is preparing for Game 3 of the series, which will be played at Wells Fargo Center on Friday, May 4 at 8 p.m. Dunphy has been very pleased with Allen’s performance.
“We’re so happy for him,” Dunphy said. “We’re so proud of him. He has had a very good rookie year. I think everybody is really happy for he and his family. We’re lucky to have him be in this situation.”
Allen was the Sixers second round pick last year. He has averaged 4.1 points and 4.2 rebounds a game this season. He came to the Sixers with some great credentials. The ex-Pennsbury High star led the Owls to four NCAA tournament appearances. He was twice selected All-Atlantic 10 Conference first-team. He received all-conference honors for his defensive skills on three occasions. As a junior, he became the first Temple player to average a double-double since Ollie Johnson did it in 1970–71. He also eclipsed John Baum as Temple’s all-time leading rebounder. Dunphy knew Allen would be a good fit for the Sixers.
“I had every confidence that he would continue to be a better basketball player each and every time he got a chance to be out there,” Dunphy said. “He’s a very intelligent basketball player and one who knows his role. I’ve seen him a couple times live and many, many times on TV and a number of times when Doug (Collins, Sixers head coach) has let me come to practice. I’ve seen him a lot. I think he’s making good progress.”
In this series, Allen has to battle some outstanding players up front such as 6-foot-9 Carlos Boozer, 6-foot-11 Joakim Noah and 6-foot-9 Taj Gibson from the Bulls. The Sixers need him for defense and rebounding, but also scoring.
“Rebounding and defense has always been consistent for him,” Dunphy said. “Now, he’s really coming into his own on how to get shots and making shots. How to get them is as important as making them. I think he gets himself in good position. He knows how to fade and get to a spot that’s open and his teammates are finding him. I think that’s a great tribute to Coach Collins and his staff.”
Dunphy will be in front of his television set for Game 3 to see Allen play in another big playoff game.
“I’ll be watching,” Dunphy said. “We’re actually in a charity event at the Palestra on Friday. It starts about 7:30 p.m., but after that is over I’m going to get the DVD out and watch him. It’s going to be great to see him.”
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.
PHILADELPHIA — Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner hopped on the scorer's table and played to the crowd as the catchy 76ers theme song blared in the arena.
Eight years of going home empty was over. The Sixers were ready for a long overdue postseason celebration.
Iguodala made the go-ahead free throws with 2.2 seconds left and Philadelphia rallied for a 79-78 victory over the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in Game 6 on Thursday night, advancing to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time since 2003.
The 76ers will face Boston, which beat Atlanta in six games, in the conference semifinals.
Omer Asik missed two free throws that would have given the Bulls a three-point lead in the final seconds. Iguodala grabbed the second miss, sprinted the length of the court, and was fouled by Asik on the driving layup. He made both and 20,362 fans went absolutely wild.
The Sixers are the fifth No. 8 seed to win a first-round series against a No. 1 seed. Memphis eliminated San Antonio last season, while Golden State (2007), New York (1999) and Denver (1994) also pulled off the rare feat.
In his second season, coach Doug Collins had already led the Sixers to their first winning season in seven years. Now, it's on to the second round for the first time Allen Iverson was an All-Star.
"I don't know how we won this game," Collins said.
The Sixers were smiling and mobbed each other as they dashed to the locker room to keep the party going.
The Sixers were 2.2 seconds from playing Game 7 in Chicago.
Now, they will pack their bags for the second round.
Iguodala scored 20 points, and Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams each scored 14. The Sixers won even though the Bulls crushed them 56-33 on the boards.
Iguodala snagged the one that mattered.
"We win on a rebound. Something we don't get all night," a smiling Collins said.
Iguodala made nine of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter in this series after shooting 45 percent (23 of 51) from the line in the period this season.
"I just wanted it for Dre so badly," Collins said.
Luol Deng had 19 points and 17 rebounds for the Bulls. Richard Hamilton scored 19 points and Carlos Boozer grabbed 13 rebounds.
The Sixers started 20-9 and led the Atlantic Division for the first half of the season until a late fade sent them tumbling toward eighth place.
None of that matters now.
Not even the fact that the series win comes with a bit of an asterisk. The Bulls lost star guard Derrick Rose to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee late in their series-opening victory. Center Joakim Noah was on the bench Thursday but failed to play in his third straight game with a sprained left ankle.
Without their stars, the Bulls found it tough to gut one out against the Sixers.
"I thought we had more than enough to win with," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I'm disappointed in the loss but I'm not disappointed in our team."
Williams, second in the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award voting, buried a 3-pointer for a 73-72 lead with 4 minutes left.
The jubilation was short lived.
The Sixers were whistled for goaltending and Taj Gibson later made two free throws for a 76-73 lead.
Spencer Hawes tried to draw the foul but settled for a basket underneath to shrink the deficit to one. Asik scored to push the lead back to three with 25.8 seconds left and Philadelphia's Thaddeus Young made it 78-77 to set the stage for the dramatic finish.
The Bulls had the lock-down defensive effort to nearly pull off the win.
The signature series came in the fourth quarter when the Sixers wasted a forced turnover on the other end with a brutal offensive possession.
Hawes missed a shot, Young missed two straight in the paint, and Hawes missed again against hands-up defense that sent the bench into a frenzy. Noah was the first one up pumping his fist and screaming encouragement for the fantastic defensive effort.
Hawes fired an airball next time down and there was a collective groan from the crowd.
Iguodala made up for a string of Sixers misses with a tying 3 that made it 70-all.
The Sixers tried to get a laugh by showing the Bulls bench on "Kiss Cam." Noah popped his warmup jacket toward the camera and the crowd booed the oversized "Chicago" on the big screen.
Noah was one of the top offensive rebounders in the league and the Bulls figured on missing his presence in the middle. Led by Deng and Boozer, the Bulls instead went out and controlled the boards, holding a 49-29 edge early in the fourth.
"We have to use this as motivation to move forward," Thibodeau said.
Notes: The Sixers scored a measly 26 first-half points in their Game 5 loss. They led Game 6 48-40 at halftime. ... The Sixers started 12 of 20 from the field and finished the half at 50 percent. They shot a season-low 32 percent in Game 5 and failed to shoot better than 40 percent in three other games. ... The Bulls had a 3-pointer taken off the board right before the first half. -- (AP)