STAR OF THE WEEK:
This week’s star goes to the Sixers’ relatively new sixth man, Marco Belinelli. The reserve has played well since joining Philadelphia and put on a performance this week. Belinelli shot 5-for-9 from deep scoring 21-points in a 108 – 94 victory against the Charlotte Hornets. The shooter then played a team high 32-minutes and scored 15-points in a 119 – 105 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies. It was more of the same as Belinelli shot a combined 5-for-9 from three in wins against the Orlando Magic and Minnesota Timberwolves.
In the weeks’ four contests the sixth man shot a blistering 50-percent from three and averaged 17.0 points. The guard has flourished in Philly thus far and has been given the green light to shoot often. More importantly, the Italian star has filled a major scoring void in the second unit and has made the 76ers bench a major threat going into the postseason.
This week the Denver Nuggets come into town fighting for their playoff lives. As a member of the Atlanta Hawks Belinelli played well against the Nuggets. In the previous match-ups the reserve averaged 12.5 points and shot 58.3 percent from three. As a member of the Sixers, fans are hoping that type of shooting remains.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
The Sixers played 13 games in the month of March, and five have come against teams with a winning record. Philly is 2 – 3 in those games, and a whopping 8 – 0 against the remaining sub .500 teams. This week featured four consecutive wins, highlighted by a thrashing of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Sixers dominated their four overmatched opponents and the weekly numbers illustrate their masterful output. Philadelphia finished 1st in assists (31.3), 3rd in rebounds per with 51.3, 4th in fastbreak points (16.8), 5th in points per game (116.3), 5th in made field goals (43.0), 5th in three-point made field goals (14.3), and 6th in field goal percentage at 48.6 percent. It was a very productive offensive week for the 76ers, and their undefeated record confirms their success.
Defensively things were more of the same as the group finished 1st in opponent field goal percentage (39.4 percent), 3rd in defensive rating (95.0), 3rd in opponent made three-pointers (7.8), 3rd in opponent three-point percentage (29.5 percent), and 4th in opponent made field goals (36.5).
First year point forward Ben Simmons has put up some astounding offensive numbers, but the forward has gotten little credit for his defensive prowess. Simmons was the squad’s top performer defensively for the week. The Australian led the team in defensive rebounds with 9.0 and in steals with 2.5.
BEN SIMMONS VS. EVERYBODY:
Donovan Mitchell is once again the week’s top rookie! The Utah Jazz appear to be playoff bound and much of their success is owed to the first year performer. Mitchell has made up for his lack of efficiency (the guard shot 40-percent for the week) with tenacious play and clutch performances. In a 124 – 120 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, the rookie scored 16 of his 35-points in the fourth quarter. For the week Mitchell averaged 28.3 points, 4.7 boards and 2.7 steals.
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.
A Quick Break
The 76ers finally won a game. Actually Philly won three out of four, including three in a row. Allen Iverson finished with 18-points and 10-assists in a 113 – 105 win against the hated Boston Celtics. The future Hall-of-Famer missed the next contest, a 96 – 92 win against the Detroit Pistons, due to injury. However, Iverson returned for a 105 – 93 win versus the Orlando Magic.
Despite missing the Pistons contest, the six foot guard dished 10 or more assists in three of his last six games and finally appeared to be adjusting to his point guard duties. Toronto came into Philadelphia and handled the 76ers 112 – 90, holding the guard to 9-for-24 shooting. The Raptors also forced the guard into eight turnovers.
TWEET OF THE WEEK: