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Winning Games Again? Sixers in Brooklyn For Sunday Atlantic Battle

Dec 23, 2012, 2:20 PM EDT

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Friday was the kind of day that turns around your entire feeling about a
team’s season. Starting off with the good news—well, at least, the
not-explicitly-bad news—that Andrew Bynum was going to be ramping up his
activity level and beginning the long road back to recovery, the black
cloud seemingly lifted from the Sixers team, and with Jrue Holiday and
Evan Turner back from injury, the Sixers eviscerated the Hawks at home
in Lou Williams’ comeback game at the Wells Fargo Center.

It was
an incredibly satisfying day of Sixers basketball, and it makes you
wonder if it’s not too late for the Sixers to actually try to do some
winning in the 2012-13 NBA season.

After losing five games in a
row—none easy, but all winnable—you had to start thinking that if the
news with Bynum this week was more negative than positive, and if Evan
and Jrue were gonna take a little longer than expected getting back on
the floor, that maybe Philly would be looking forward to summer camp a
little early this year. But after a 19-point win like Friday’s–against
the team with the third-best record in the East, with the Sixers’ key
players all contributing and their bench players finally stepping up a
little as well—maybe it’s not time to write the season off just yet.
Maybe, to quote a one-time friend of Philadelphia sports, we can build
on this.

If so, we gotta come correct today in Brooklyn. After a
hot start that had them looking like an elite team in the East, the
Nets have struggled mightily, losing eight of their last ten games and
seeing their leader and presumptive franchise player in Deron Williams
being questioned from all corners for his poor shooting and occasionally
primadonna-ish attitude. Even with their poor play of late, the Nets
are still a game up in the division on the Sixers, but somewhat
incredibly, the Sixers can leapfrog both them and the Celtics with a win
today and end up at 2nd in the Atlantic with their 14-14 record.

It
won’t be easy. The Nets can kill the Sixers where it hurts them, up
front, with their seven-foot center Brook Lopez and resurgent power
forward Andray Blatche (not to mention our old buddy, Reggie “The
Rebounding-and-Nuts-Grabbing Machine” Evans). The Sixers are gonna need a
big game on both ends of the court from Lavoy Allen, and if Spencer
Hawes is gonna continue his solid play on offense (almost 15 points and
seven rebounds a game over his last eight, with over 50% shooting), he’s
gonna have to find a way not to give it all back on the defensive end.

3:00 tip from Barclays. It’s more fun when they win.