By Chris Murray
For the Sunday Sun and the Chris Murray Report
If you’re still thinking that the Philadelphia 76ers 16-6 record is all just smoke and mirrors against the NBA’s worst teams, the Chicago Bulls, the team that has the best record in the Eastern Conference, would beg to differ with local cynics and skeptics.
“They’re well balanced, There’s not one aspect of the game that they don’t have well covered,” said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. “They can break you down off the dribble. They’re great in transition, they’re great defensively. They’re right there with everyone else. It’s going to be who can continue to build as the season goes along. … Philly is certainly very, very impressive.”
In front of 18,325 screaming fans at the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday, the Sixers easily came away with a 98-82 victory over a Bulls squad that was without Rick Hamilton and Luol Deng.
But if you’re still not convinced the 76ers are really that good of the players that weren’t on the floor for the Bulls, point guard Derrick Rose said the Sixers are getting their fair share of respect around the league.
“They’re a good team,” said Rose, who scored 18 points on 8-of-17 shooting. “I think everyone knows that when you play them, you know they’re definitely going to play hard. It’s no surprise that the way that they’re playing, the way that they’re winning, that people around the NBA know that they have great athletic players that play good together.”
In an NBA that is driven by star power, the Sixers are proving that anybody can be a star on a given night whether it’s rookie and former Temple star Lavoy Allen, who had 15 points and six rebounds off the bench or Andre Iguodala electrifying the crowd with his emphatic dunks. He scored 19 points with nine rebounds.
“I think that everyone gets caught up in the superstar and stats and all that,” said former Sixers and current Bulls small forward Kyle Korver. “There’s a lot to be said about a coach who has control of the team and really good chemistry. That’s something that’s not talked about enough.”
Iguodala said the Sixers are just as good and individually talented as any other team. The thing that’s made a difference is the team’s unselfishness.
“We have guys who can go on other teams and put up big numbers,” Iguodala said. “But I think it’s good that we’re sacrificing for one another. We understand what helps us win. The formula is working. We just have to continue to feed off each and defensively continue to be on point.”
The Sixers still have a game Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center against LeBron James and the Miami Heat, who gave the head coach Doug Collins team a pretty good thrashing down in South Florida.
Collins said that his team has grown up to the point to where they collectively believe they are as good as anyone that lines up with them on the floor. He said his team is taking this murderous stretch of games that includes the Hawks on the road, the L.A. Lakers, Clippers, and San Antonio Spurs as a challenge, especially from the team’s critics who say they haven’t beaten some of the better teams in the league.
“I don’t think you guys know how grueling it gets in this league when you have to play five games in seven nights and the demands that come with that,” Collins said. “You have to defend and play hard on every possession because our guys do that every night. Maybe we’ll find ways to beat teams that are better than us and that’s what you have to do in this league.”
Beating teams like the Heat and the Lakers maybe more than a monumental task and with the way the Sixers are playing right now, they’re not going to be under the radar for too long.
“They’re for real,” said Bulls forward Joakim Noah. “They’re playing with a lot of passion and they’re playing hungry.”