Sixers Giving Chase In East Race

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – When someone made a cruel joke about Elton Brand last year, something about him being the “MySpace” of power forwards in a Facebook world, everybody here at hideout got a good chuckle out of it.

Well, guess who’s laughing now?

Much like the 76ers team he anchors, Brand is experiencing a bit of a renaissance these days. Not only have the Sixers reshaped the race for slots six through eight in the Eastern Conference playoff chase, they’re making things extremely tough on a certain team in New York. That’s the crew many observers assumed would separate itself from the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff pack after that blockbuster Carmelo Anthony trade.

Yet it’s been the Sixers’ steady burn — they are 22-13 since Jan. 3 — that seems to be winning this race.

This is a team that is definitely on the rise, and at just the right time. The Sixers are locked in with the Knicks for that sixth spot — although Philly owns the tie-breaker on New York by winning the season series 3-1 — and that means a potential date with Miami in the first round of the playoffs. Brand proved last night that he still has a little something left in his tank when he blew out the candles on Blake Griffin‘s 22nd birthday cake at Staples Center.

Griffin was attempting to tie Brand’s 2001-02 single-season record of 55 double-doubles in a Clippers uniform. He fouled out for just the third time this season and fell short of the record, finishing with 14 points and eight rebounds.

Brand’s reaction, after being informed that Griffin was on the verge of tying his record, was priceless.

“I was not aware of that, but I’m glad I stopped him,” Brand told reporters after the game. “He’s so athletic. He gets to the rim with ease and he can finish over anybody, so we just tried to keep him out of that paint. I’m sure he’ll get one the next game and tie it, then break it — but not on my watch.”

The game was the perfect snapshot of the Sixers’ season. Doug Collins got ejected for fighting for his players and the Sixers scrapped with Griffin and the Clippers all night long.

In a season filled with a seemingly endless stream of intriguing story lines, the Sixers might be the best one you haven’t heard about. That’s why we stay glued to the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Deep Sixer files, courtesy of Sixers beat writer Kate Fagan. The take on last night’s game, which included some hard fouls, technical fouls and plenty of playoff-level intensity from both sides:

It started with a breakaway by Clippers star Blake Griffin. Sixers Jodie Meeks and Tony Battie were chasing Griffin. Meeks ran in front and swiped backward at Griffin. Battie, trailing the play slightly, looked to be wrapping up Griffin to make sure he didn’t complete the play. Battie appeared to be trying to hold Griffin up, keep him from falling, but Griffin seemed to misinterpret Battie’ intentions and popped off the floor like he might go after Battie. Battie was called for a flagrant foul 1 (initially it was a 2, which means automatic ejection, but it was almost immediately downgraded).

Just before the half, with the Sixers having shot fewer team free throws (11) than Griffin shot by himself (13), Doug Collins earned two technicals and was ejected from the game with 15.8 seconds remaining in the second quarter. All of this extracurricular activity seemed to spur the Sixers, who scored 30 points in the third quarter and basically turned this thing into a pseudo-blowout.

In the locker room afterward, here’s what Collins and point guard Jrue Holiday said about the game.

Collins: “I sure didn’t want to get ejected, but I just thought I had to stand up. I just thought I had to stand up for our guys. And they were great, they responded, talked at halftime about how important this game was … great win, I think with this win tonight we move to sixth … again, I felt helpless in here watching it, but I was so proud of our guys. They were tough and got a great win.” …

Here’s what Jrue said about Collins’ ejection and what it meant to the team:

“I think it definitely [energized the team]. It definitely riled us up, coach took a hit for us. We got his back, too. The least we could do is win the game.”

Is that what you talked about at halftime?

“Yeah, I mean, we came in energetic and enthused and, I mean, 10 minutes left and they were still doing the halftime show and we were outside ready to warm up. So, we were definitely excited to get back out there and fight for coach.”

A team fighting for each other, for its coach and for it’s playoff lives is a team worth keeping an eye on this time of year, especially when they have the “MySpace” of power forwards leading the way!

19 Comments

  1. BigAl says:

    Season series is 2-1 Sixers, not 3-1. 4th game is April 6. Don’t be sloppy. It hurts your credibility.

  2. Amir says:

    This is the same Philly team that has the made the playoffs the last couple of years. So, Doug Colins isn’t really doing anything special to make this team overachieve he’s just making them play up to par. But this team is only an Elton Brand injury away from tanking. And the probability of that happeneing is very high. Elton Brand the most gifted and brittle PF ever to play the game. He has never plaqyed a complete season in his career. And they would have no chance against the Heat and it looks like the Knicks will be playing the Heat and Philly the Bulls. We( Knicks) can beat either team in a seven game series…

    • ryan says:

      you sir are a retard….this philly team wasn’t close to the playoffs last year…elton brand is far from the most gifted pf ever. and the knicks will be in seventh playing the celtics in the first round sixers playing the heat in first round as the sixth seed…sixers will push to six or seven games maybe win..knicks are done in the first round easily

      • Amir says:

        Dear Ryantarded.

        Listen Super Retard. Yes philly finished below our pathetic knicks last year with a fresh 27-55 record. But the year before they did make the playoffs and got crushed by orlando. Elton Brand has averaged 20 and 10 his entire career. He averaged that his rookie season for the bulls. If he didnt miss all of those games he would be equal to Duncan and Garnett. Check the stats retard. And we will finish ahead of Philly like we have all year. Amare and Melo will drop fecal matter on Brand and overrated Iggy (should have kept the real A.I). Who can stop those two? If Elton is healthy neutralize Amare’s scoring. What about Melo my man? Doug Collins will be crying like a little girl again at the end of the year. And he will repeat these words like he did with the Pistons and the Bulls when he couldnt get the job done cuz he’s a loser!!!” I gave it all I had but it just wasnt enough, sob, sob, sob cry whine, whine.. Ryantard At least know your team before you open your mouth numb nuts. Come on dude we are NYC you guys are Philadelphia. Are you kidding me? That’s like giving yourself props for representing Bismark, North Dakota. SHHHH How’s Jimmy Rollins and his perdictions doing? Listen if I want more crap out of you I will squeeze your head.. And you are getting excited about beating the Clippers? WOW!

        How many games has Elton Brand missed and played for Sixers. He has missed more than he has played.

  3. Cameron says:

    76ers FOR LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!! Iggy for defensive player of the year!

  4. toaSTEEZ says:

    lol he got blocked on his birthday
    didnt get a double double on his birthday
    didnt tie elton brands record on his birthday
    didnt get the Win for the Clips on his birthday
    and to top it all off: HE FOUL’D OUT ON HIS BIRTHDAY
    go shorty is yo birfday we goin party like is yo birfday!!!

  5. KL Justice says:

    The sixers are playing great. I think it’s because Collins is a good coach and teacher. Also Iggy looks like he’s on board. He looks like he’s a part of the team. People have said he wasn’t going to grow, even I said it, I’m glad I was wrong. But Lou is still my favorite player. Also E.T. is stepping up.

    Fun team to watch*

  6. Silver says:

    Fun team to watch. Still pissed the Raptors drafted Rafeal Arrujao or whatever his name was over Andre Igoudala

  7. Cole DeWolfe says:

    I live in NS, Canada but being on the east coast cheer for the Sixers. I can’t even put in words how happy I am that the boys are just playing as hard as they can and getting results. It might sound silly but I might prefer a first round with boston because of how close the games this year and even last season were but I’d love for the Sixers to send the Heat home crying if it ends up that way. Anyone but the Bulls first round works for me though.

  8. Dan says:

    i do wish we still had iverson. though but im happy for him,

  9. Dan says:

    im so proud of the sixers. they have made a huge turnaround from the time they had eddie jordan as head coach… im so glad they dont have him as head coach.. he didnt do a good job at all… his plays were boring and mediocore. doug collins has certainly turned them around.. perfect coach for a young team. hes a veteran and hes tough.. i hope that hes feeling better. get ready miami youre going to get a beating..

  10. Denzzo says:

    I love the Clippers.. particularly Eric Gordon.. But man Elton Brand is my man and still cant believe the Bulls let him go!

  11. John says:

    Right after the AS break I wrote up a blog saying the sixers would finish 6 and NY 7, not surprised.

  12. Sp says:

    Scary thing is, Charles, they’re pretty much the same Sixers who fell to pieces the entire season last year. I am glad to see they are so motivated. A Philly-Miami first round, even if the Heat swept them, would absolutely beat Miami up completely! Yay!

  13. charles says:

    this year’s thunder, gotta love the new sixers