Over the past 12 games, the Sixers have posted an impressive, 9-3 record. They have just two games remaining before the All-Star break, and both are winnable - at Memphis tomorrow and at Houston on Wednesday.
The standout reason for their current hot streak can be directly related to their defense. In those nine wins, the Sixers have yielded just 89.3 points per game; in the three losses, 105.
There is a renewed interest in playing on the defensive end. Andre Iguodala has been the leader with his terrific on-the-ball pressure and everyone else has followed. It has been quite some time since the team has rotated so well against opponents who move the ball. The Sixers are playing well on the interior, on the perimeter and forcing turnovers, which gets them out on the fastbreak, allowing them to do what they do best - run.
After the victory over San Antonio, coach Doug Collins started to talk about how well second-year point guard Jrue Holiday played on the offensive end, posting a game-high 27 points. After a couple of sentences praising Holiday, the coach said, "Forget the offense . . . " and proceeded to go back to heaping praise on his team's defensive efforts.
A night after holding the Spurs to season lows in points and field-goal percentage (33.3 percent), the Sixers allowed Minnesota to make just 36.4 percent of their shots in a 107-87 win. It was the 10th time this season the Sixers have held an opponent under 40 percent from the floor, and they improved to 9-1 in those games.
Thaddeus Young led seven Sixers in double figures with 18 points on Saturday. Not only has the defense been a key contributor during the current hot streak, but so has the team's offensive productivity from a variety of players. In the nine victories over the past 12 games, the Sixers have been led in scoring by six different players (Iguodala, Young and Lou Williams twice each, and Elton Brand, Holiday and Marreese Speights).
Before the season, Collins talked endlessly about how the defense needed to improve, how the Sixers, without a superstar, go-to offensive player, probably would have close to seven players averaging double figures. It has five, and Jodie Meeks is at 9.7 a game.
Nearly everything the coach has talked about has come to fruition. And the team seems to be reaping the rewards.
The Sixers turned the ball over just eight times against the Timberwolves . . . Starting center Spencer Hawes scored 12 points against Minnesota, a night after scoring 13 against the Spurs. It is just the fourth time in the past 28 games he has scored in double figures and the first time in those 28 games that he's gone back-to- back . . . The Sixers will practice this morning at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine before heading to Memphis this afternoon . . . Saturday's win improved the Sixers to 12-2 when holding opponents under 90 points. They did it just eight times (7-1) last season. A win tomorrow would give the Sixers 27 wins, their total from last season . . . When Elton Brand scored eight points on Friday, it ended a streak of 11 consecutive double-figure games . . . Jodie Meeks is averaging 13.1 points over the past nine games. *
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