The curse of two finally broken, the Sixers have officially matched their season-high winning streak, of, uh, three. The win in Toronto did not come easy (not as easy as I'd have liked, anyway), but thanks to another strong bench effort, the Sixers were able to finally get separation in the fourth quarter, and ended up winning by a comfortable 107-94 final. Marreese Speights broke through from another underwhelming season with a season-and-team-high 23 points on 10-12 shooting, and Jrue Holiday had his ninth double-double of the year with 15 points and 11 assists.
Philly can really send this streak into the stratosphere with an unprecedent fourth consecutive victory tonight, against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies. Is it feeling like 2008 again in here or what??
The Grizz, who are 20-22 and currently scrapping for the largely-available 8th seed in the Western Conference, come to the Wells Fargo Center with a fair amount of baggage. Third-year guard O.J. Mayo has capped what has already been something of a nightmare season--getting moved to a sixth-man role on the bench, making headlines with a card-game-fight with a teammate on the team plane, being involved in countless trade rumors--with a ten-game suspension for testing positive for steroid DHEA, which Mayo claims he didn't know was illegal when he took in an over-the-counter supplement. Go figure.
The loss of Mayo is a harsh blow to an already highly undermanned Grizzlies bench. Luckily, this is a problem the Sixers have needed not concern themselves with this year, as their second unit has emerged not only as a team strength, but likely one of the best in the league. All four players off the bench scored in double-digits against the Raptors, including Speights's 23, 15 from Lou Williams, and Evan Turner's second-straight strong all-around effort (ten points, five boards, three dimes, including the game-highlight oop to Speights). It's at the point now where I've learned to be patient with the team's performance until that bench unit comes in--especially against a hurting bench like the Raptors' or Grizzlies'--and have the confidence that they'll either get us back in the game or create some much-needed separation.
7:00 tip from the WFC. And happy birthday to our own Andre Iguodala, who turns 27 years old today. Take it away, Evan:
Evan Turner, now available for weddings and bar mitzvahs.