STAR OF THE WEEK:
This week’s star goes to the Sixers’ least discussed starter, Dario Saric. The go-to topics surrounding the 76ers’remain; Markelle Fultz’s return, Ben Simmons’ jumpshot & Joel Embiid’s health, with Saric’s play a distant afterthought. Yet, the Croatian continues to provide a certain level of toughness and consistency to the current group of Sixers.
It was the forward’s ten third quarter points (20-points in all) that allowed Philly to overcome a 59 – 51 halftime deficit and defeat the Denver Nuggets 123 – 104. A raucous home crowd witnessed Saric score a game high 26-points in a 118 – 101 win versus the New York Knicks. With that victory the Sixers swept the season series 4 – 0. The week was not all grasshoppers and water ice as the forward did struggle, to the tune of shooting 2-for-10, in a 101 – 91 victory against the Atlanta Hawks.
The upcoming week is highlighted by a pivotal Friday night match-up with the number three seed, Cleveland Cavaliers. On the season Saric is averaging 13.7 points and 9.3 rebounds against the Cavs, while shooting 43-percent from the field and 21-percent from three. The EuroLeague legend will need to step his game up if Philly is to move up in the playoff standings. The Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons and Brooklyn Nets round out the week’s schedule.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
The Sixers have not lost a game in almost three weeks and appear primed for the playoffs. Confidence levels could not be higher as they head towards their highest win total in 15 seasons. It was another undefeated week for Philadelphia as they finished 3 – 0. Offensively Philly scored over 115 points in two of their three contests and looked extremely potent on that end of the floor. The Sixers’ efforts for the week landed them 1st in points per with 114.0, 1st in made field goals (44.3), 1st in rebounds per with 54.7, 1st in assists (34.3), 3rd in fastbreak points (20.7), and 10th in points in the paint (49.3).Turnovers remain an issue for the group and this week was no different, Philadelphia finished 23rd with 15.0 per. It was a dominant seven days and as the season comes to an end there is no reason to believe things will be any different.
The Sixers’ potency was not regulated to just the offensive end, defensively they were just as spectacular. The undefeated group finished the week 1st in opponent field goal percentage (38.7 percent), 1st in defensive rating (90.0), 2nd in opponent made field goals (36.0), 2nd in opponent turnovers (17.0) 3rd in defensive rating (95.0), 3rd in opponents points in the paint (39.3), 5th in opponent three-point percentage (28.4 percent), and 7th in opponents points per (98.7). No one knows how this squad will respond with center Joel Embiid missing significant time with a broken face. However, one thing is for certain defensively this team will always compete.
BEN SIMMONS VS. EVERYBODY
Kyle Kuzma returns to the head of the class as this week’s top rookie! Kuzma has been playing for pride with the Los Angeles Lakers all but eliminated from the playoffs and in the process has given hope that better seasons are ahead for Laker fans. The steal of the 2017 NBA draft continues to shine in the city of stars and for the week averaged 21.7 points on 53.1 percent shooting, all while grabbing 9.0 rebounds and playing an astounding 40.4 minutes per.
Here are some of the other top rookie performers for the week:
ANSWERING THE CALL – A.I.’s ROOKIE YEAR
It has been exactly 20 seasons since Hall-of-Fame guard Allen Iverson first blessed the NBA hardwood and ignited the city of Philadelphia. From the moment the Virginia native donned a Philadelphia 76ers uniform fans everywhere had a feeling Iverson was special and their basketball prayers were finally answered.
The organization struggled mightily through five consecutive losing seasons before selecting the six foot powerhouse out of Georgetown, first overall. It appears the franchise has found another transcendent player, in first year “guard” Ben Simmons. Oddly enough this year’s prized rookie guard hits the court after yet another five consecutive losing seasons.
As spectators enjoy the greatness and infancy stages of Simmons’ career, it is hard to forget the last time Philly had something (or someone) this special to root for. Therefore, while we partake in the now it is impossible to not reminisce the before.
What made Allen Iverson a great player was the perfect blend of god given ability and unbridled determination. That determination was on display in Philadelphia’s final ten games of the guard’s rookie campaign. It became apparent that despite the 76ers rhapsodically losing, A.I. refused to concede.
A 7-for-19 shooting performance in a 114 – 103 loss to the Indiana Pacers preceded a chain of scoring performances that drastically altered the course of Iverson’s career. Just 24-hours after the guard’s 22-point game against Indiana the six footer grabbed 10-rebounds and scored 32-points in a last second 115 – 113 defeat to the Charlotte Hornets. When asked to conquer the 65 – 10 Chicago Bulls, No. 3 responded with a 44-point output against one of the league’s top defensive teams.
A three-point Philadelphia halftime deficit morphed into a 128 – 102 loss. Outscoring Michael Jordan (44 – 30) in Chicago is no small feat. However, what the guard had planned for an encore far surpassed his second drubbing of M.J.
TWEET OF THE WEEK: