Sixers player evaluation: Jrue Holiday

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Sixers player evaluation: Jrue Holiday

Note: Over the next couple of weeks we will recap the Sixers’ season by evaluating each member of the roster.

Jrue Holiday

Position: Point guard

Status: Headed into the first year of a four-year, $41 million contract extension

Signature game of 2012-13
Holiday scored on a layup with 1.1 seconds left in the Jan. 18 game against the Toronto Raptors at the Wells Fargo Center to force overtime and lead the Sixers back from a 19-point deficit. In overtime, Holiday scored all 12 of the Sixers’ points in a 108-101 victory to cap off a 33-point, 14-assist effort.

From Jan. 18:
There hasn’t been much Jrue Holiday hasn’t shown during his breakout, All-Star caliber season. In fact, there aren’t too many folks around the NBA who aren’t aware of the Sixers’ point guard’s talent.

“Everybody knows how good Jrue Holiday is,” Sixers head coach Doug Collins said.

In Friday night’s 108-101 comeback victory over the Toronto Raptors in overtime at the Wells Fargo Center, Holiday put his entire game on display and made his best case for an All-Star bid.

Holiday tied a career-high with 33 points on 13-for-23 shooting to go with 14 assists to lead the Sixers back from a 19-point second-half deficit. Better yet, it was Holiday’s layup with 1.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter to force overtime and give the Sixers their first share of the lead all game.

However, he saved the real fireworks for overtime.

In the extra frame, Holiday scored all 12 of the Sixers’ points, converting on a three-pointer and three foul shots as they rolled to just their second win of the season when trailing after three quarters.

Holiday in 2012-13
It was the quintessential breakout year that many predicted for Holiday. On opening night, Holiday signed a four-year contract extension, he earned his first All-Star berth and at age 22, became an undisputed leader of the Sixers.

There’s more: Holiday was fourth in the NBA in assists with eight per game and 10th in minutes per game with nearly 38.

There were also some learning experiences for Holiday, too. He was second in the league with 3.7 turnovers per game, and by the end of the season, Holiday admitted he was fatigued. Chalk it up to all those minutes, the demanding position of point guard and the added responsibility taken on as the team captain.

Prospectus
After four years in the NBA, Holiday is only 22. He has improved every season he’s been in the league and the Sixers are expecting even more improvement from their All-Star. Not only was Holiday signed to a four-year extension that begins in 2013-14, but also Holiday will be the player the team builds around headed into the future.

“I think if you talk to Jrue, he’ll tell you he needs to work on his stamina and the mental toughness of going through the entire season,” coach Doug Collins said last week. “He told me the other day that after the All-Star break he hasn’t played as well. Playing all 82 and the demands of that position, the sky is still the limit for him.”

On Jrue Holiday
“I like him because he’s a big guard and he plays at his own tempo. A lot of guards get going too fast and they speed up, but Jrue plays at his own speed. He can get into the paint and he has that nice little shot over the smaller guards.”

-- Dorell Wright, Oct. 20, 2012

“When he’s not in the game you can feel it because the ball doesn’t move around as much. He’s our distributor and he’s the one who makes the plays. Sometimes the offense becomes stagnant without Jrue in the game.”

-- Thad Young, Nov. 25, 2012

Dario Saric halts slump with 'best game as a 76er'

Dario Saric halts slump with 'best game as a 76er'

Dario Saric came into the NBA knowing his rookie season would be one of ups and downs. He would have successes based on his talent and struggle because of the newness of the league and matchups.

Saturday’s performance against the Celtics was one of those highlight nights. Saric scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, both tying career-highs, for his third double-double. He was efficient in his performance, playing 27 minutes off the bench in the Sixers' 107-106 loss.

“I thought that was his best game as a 76er,” Brett Brown said.

Saric had struggled the night before against the Magic. He barely made a dent in 16 minutes, posting just two points (1 for 5 from the field) without a single rebound. The poor showing was on his mind Saturday, as he got ready for the second game of the back-to-back. He went in early to get up extra shots, met with coaches, studied film and thought about the matchup throughout the day.

“I prepared a little bit more for this game,” Saric said. “After I have some bad rhythm of five or six, maybe, games. Now I concentrate more. I try to give my best, try to play my best, try to think before everything happens.”

Saric showed his aggressiveness in crunch time in the fourth quarter, when he scored seven points and five rebounds in eight minutes. He nailed a three to cut the Celtics' lead to 92-91 with 4:28 to play. Then with 1:09 remaining, Saric’s free throws cut the Celtics' lead to two points. On the other end of the court, he snagged the rebound off an Isaiah Thomas miss and scored a game-tying layup from Jahlil Okafor.  

“He played great,” Okafor said. “He’s working hard every day, getting used to the NBA process. It was good to see hard work paying off for him.”

Saric has been adjusting to new roles throughout the season. He was thrown into the starting power forward spot when Ben Simmons was injured, and then moved to the bench when the team acquired Ersan Ilyasova. On Saturday, Brown also played Saric at small forward in Robert Covington’s (knee) absence, a shift the Sixers may try again.

“He’s a good teammate,” Brown said. “He’s biding his time. He understands he’s a rookie. Incrementally, he’ll be given these opportunities. Tonight he did and he responded and you’re seeing continued growth.”

Saric still is early in his NBA career, and Saturday's showing was a game he can look back on and study for the rest of the season. 

“I feel like tonight … you’d walk away and say, ‘Shoot, that’s a hell of a player for playing 20 games in the NBA and he did what he just did against a hell of a team,’” Brown said. “I’m proud of what we saw all over the place from Dario.”

Sixers' '66-'67 team reflects on success of 'best team ever'

Sixers' '66-'67 team reflects on success of 'best team ever'

As part of their “Salute Saturday” series, the Sixers honored the 1966-67 championship team at halftime of their 107-106 loss the Celtics on Saturday.

Fifty years after winning the title, the success of the squad (which went 68-13 in the regular season) still resonates with those representing the Sixers today. After all, they are the group Wilt Chamberlain described as “the best team ever.” 

“It’s just part of the history of this city and the organization,” said Brett Brown, who has established a relationship with Billy Cunningham through practice visits and emails. “There was a toughness with that team that he personified and the city sort of reflects. It’s stuff you hear me talk about all the time how you want our team to reflect the spirit of the city. That team did it.”

Prior to their tribute ceremony, members of the team reflected on their run in which they beat the San Francisco Warriors for the title. 

On Wilt Chamberlain
“Wilt was such a dominant figure, not only as a basketball player, but he’s almost bigger than the game,” Matt Goukas said. “He played so well, he was such a good team player – he started really passing the ball right around that time --and that enabled great scorers like Hal (Greer) and Billy and Chet Walker to do their thing, and Wilt was very happy to give them that leeway.”.

On fond memories
“It was a team that we played well together and we lived as a family and that’s what made it so good for us," Greer said. "A lot of fun, a lot of fun. We missed the next year, but 68-13 is not bad at all.”

“It’s hard to forget a situation like that where we had such a terrific team and the season went so quickly, we won so many games and then of course winning a championship,” Goukas said. “As a first year player I said, ‘This is the way it’s supposed to be, I guess.’ But of course I never won another championship as a player, but we had such a terrific group of guys and true professionals that for me as a rookie, Billy Melchionni as a rookie, we really benefited from guys like Hal Greer, Wally Jones and Harry Costello, they really showed us the way.”

On team chemistry
“It was very difficult times when you look at the sixties from a social aspect,” Cunningham said. “Martin Luther King was killed the following year we won the championship. Race relationships weren’t the best. And this time, which was just about half black-half white, I’m not even sure, it was never an issue. That’s the beauty I think of being on a team you know getting to know people, you judge them as an individual and nothing more than that.”

“I think it was our coach Alex Hannum, for one (that kept the team together),” Greer said. “And of course the big guy. He held us together most of the time, he could rebound, play defense, do it all.”