The NBA season has reached the halfway point and the All-Star game is 3 weeks away. The Lakers are deep and strong, as everyone knows, and they lead the overwhelmingly superior Western Conference. LeBron has taken his game to yet another level and the Cav's sit in first place in the East--where only Cleveland, Boston, Orlando, and Atlanta are actual contenders.
As for the Sixers, they will take the floor at the Wachovia Center Monday night, 5.5 games out of the eighth playoff spot, against the Pacers with a chance to go on their first winning streak of the season.
Not once, in 43 games, have the Sixers been able to win 3 in a row. The team did however manage to go on two losing streaks this season, including 12 loses in a row from November 20th to December 14th.
As of late, the Sixers are playing better. They are 8-6 in their last 14 games, including quality wins over Portland, Denver, New Orleans, and Dallas. That record could have been improved if Philadelphia didn't blow double digit leads to lowly Minnesota and Washington.
Eddie Jordan has figured out a solid bench rotation, has the guys playing better defense (only gave up over 100 points once in the last eight games), and has pushed the tempo finally.
Elton Brand seems revitalized since being put in the starting lineup and lead all scorer's with 23 points Saturday against the Pacers. When he is on the floor the offense runs through him. As he gets going and teams pay more attention to him, he facilitates the offense to Andre Iguodala, Allen Iverson, Willie Green, and other perimeter players.
The young threesome of Thaddeus Young, Marreese Speights, and Louis Williams can run almost any teams bench off the floor with their speed and athleticism. Think of the Sixers offense as Jamie Moyer pitching: it's most effective when they mix up speeds and can only win when there is a solid defensive effort to back them up. Samuel Dalembert is the key to that defensive effort, blocking and altering shots in the lane. Sammy is second only to Dwight Howard in blocks per game and he had 4 steals against the Pacers.
If Jrue Holiday continues to take care of the basketball when he is on the floor and set up Iguodala, Iverson, and Brand then who knows, maybe this won't be the last winning streak of the year.
This will be the fourth attempt for the Sixers at going on a winning streak (previous attempts failed against Boston, LA Clippers, and New York) and as Manager Lou Brown says in Major League II, "Ok, guys. We've won two games in a row. If we win tonight, it's called a winning streak. IT HAS HAPPENED BEFORE."