3-0 baby! And how’d they do it? Well, they got out to an insurmountable lead against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday and won 88-75, Allen Iverson hit a game winning shot on Friday to go 105 to 103 over the Orlando Magic, and Kyle Korver and Allen Iverson turned on the offense during the 3rd quarter on Sunday to propel the Sixers past the Miami Heat 107-98. At one point yesterday the Sixers had a 41-14 run against the Heat. For what it’s worth, the Sixers did not have to face Shaquille O’Neal, but he is not what he once was either. Still, the Sixers have now won their first three games, of which all of them would have been tough to win last season.
So what’s the difference so far? Well, it’s not the rebounding, as even today they gave up some key offensive boards, and were outboarded almost 2 to 1 against the Magic. It’s not really the defense in that they’re consistent with it. Sure, they held the Hawks to 75, but they don’t have much to begin with, and they were throwing some bricks up. What’s happened, in my view, is that the Sixers are being extremely efficient on offense, in all respects. They are shooting a great percentage, especially Kyle Korver off the bench, they are passing around the key like a championship team, and they aren’t turning the ball over much at all. And a couple individual performances deserve some highlight:
- Allen Iverson is having another hot start. He just gets better with age, averaging 34 pts, a shade under 4 boards, and 9.6 assists on 49.3% shooting. The only thing I see that could be a concern is the amount of minutes he’s playing, as he’s sat only 7 minutes so far this year. Come on Mo, give the man a break every now and then.
- Kyle Korver is shooting the lights out, period. At one point inbetween the 2nd and 3rd games he was 9-9 for 3 pointers. He’s only 9-11 for the first three games though. He’s also contributed two 20 point games already, and has provided valuable bench scoring, something the Sixers missed in the 2005-06 campaign. His only problem is that the closer he is to the basket, the less likely he is to score. Cheeks just has to make sure he gets no closer than 20 feet to the basket.
- Andre Iguodala seems to have added a bit more offense to his game. He’s yet to have a single-digit scoring night, and has already thrown up 8 threes. He’s also provided his usual good defense and all-around game. One negative is his lack of free throw shooting, but that comes with aggressiveness towards the hoop, something Andre will likely develop over this season. At least we can all hope.
They haven’t had a defining game that makes one jump up and say that these guys are for real, but they haven’t disappointed at all either. It’s best to just enjoy this ride, get a decent playoff spot, and hope that the younger guys develop along the way.