Three particular ovations stood out among the others in the Wells Fargo Center Sunday afternoon. The first was for Moses Malone, as the 6’10’ hall of fame center walked out to center court during the halftime ceremony honoring the 1982-83 championship team. The second quickly followed as Julius “Dr. J” Erving was rightfully announced in the anchor position of the ceremonial proceedings. My father who was at the game with me described him as one of the best to ever play, right there with Jordan and Wilt. While statistically or from a titles perspective, Erving doesn’t quite fall into that group, for many Philadelphia sports fans he’ll always be remembered in unsurpassed company. Dr. J and the rest of that team brought this city a championship, something that doesn’t come easy in this town, and that’s worth more than scoring records or the place in ‘The Book of Basketball’ to a lot of people. Which brings me to the last ovation, following the Sixers’ 91-77 win over the Cavaliers. This season has been an abject disaster, but Philadelphia came out with one of their better performances in the final home game of the season, and the Sixers faithful showed their appreciation for the effort and the hope of a better tomorrow.
Throughout the first three quarters before the benches were emptied, the Sixers moved the ball around as well as they have all season. The team had 53 points at halftime without a single player in double figures, as they were refreshingly more concerned with finding the open man than any individual agendas. At the end of the game, 6 different players had reached double figures in points (paced by Dorell Wright’s 15 off the bench), and 5 players recorded 4 or more assists (led by big man Spencer Hawes with 6).
Defensively, the Sixers swarmed to the ball, forcing 18 Cavaliers’ turnovers; Hawes also had a nice game protecting the rim with 4 blocks. Kyrie Irving was held to just 4 points as he was limited in the first half with foul trouble. After picking up his 4th and 5th fouls three minutes into the third quarter, Irving hit the bench, never to return as the lead continued to grow and the starters from both teams took a seat. The most memorable part of the Cavaliers’ offense was remembering how much Marreese Speights likes to hoist up 18 footers early in the shot clock.
All in all, it was the type of performance the Sixers should put forth against lottery teams on a regular basis. If today’s play had been the norm throughout the season, Philadelphia would be playing games beyond next week. Maybe Adam Aron and Sixers management can bring out past Sixers champions for each home games next season. Philadelphia will finish out the season on the road against Detroit Monday, and Indiana Wednesday