Here's the thing about that tweet: I'm an idiot.
I don't say that because I made a wrong prediction. We all do that. The only way to avoid making a wrong prediction is to never make a prediction, and that's tough to do in this business.
The reason I acknowledge that I'm an idiot is because I know better than to send that tweet. I had just written the other day how massive blown leads are an inescapable reality in today's NBA, and while that article focused mainly on the Sixers' propensity to give up said leads, it goes the other way as well. As my colleague Tim Bontemps pointed out last night, the win over Memphis moved the Sixers to 5-10 in games where they trail by at least 15 points, which is the best winning percentage in the league.
I knew better, and I still sent the tweet.
Immediately – literally right after the timeout the Sixers took when I sent that tweet – the Sixers used a 24-8 run to take their first lead since 9:23 of the first quarter, eventually pulling away for a 110-105 win over Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr and the Memphis Grizzlies, the two seed in the Western Conference.
The Sixers finally finding some rhythm on offense during that stretch (they shot 7-10 from the field, 4-6 from 3-point range and didn't commit a single turnover in the final six minutes of play) will get a lot of the attention today, and rightfully so. Embiid (8 points, 3-4 shooting during the run) and Harden (6 points, 2-3 shooting, 3 assists) lifted the Sixers' offense to a level of execution it hadn't seen all night, and at just the right time.
But their defensive effort during the run was just as key, as the Grizzlies shot just 3-14 in the latter half of the fourth quarter. Desmond Bane, who terrorized the Sixers to the tune of 19 points in the first quarter, couldn't get a clean look. Ja Morant, who is as quick and as explosive athletically as any guard in the league, went 0-5 down the stretch, with some key weakside help from Joel Embiid and strong 1-on-1 defense from Tobias Harris slowing down Memphis' star guard.
Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey was just on The Ricky talking about how we can tend to overrate blown leads, and about how comebacks and blown leads are two sides of the same coin that we react very differently towards, even though both are very much a part of today's NBA. The Sixers have spent their last two games showcasing this to perfection.
They did not play very good offensive basketball for most of last night, but competed enough defensively to keep the game in reach and executed down the stretch when it mattered. As a result, they sent the Wells Fargo Center rocking, and have added a victory over the 35-23 Memphis Grizzlies to their resume to kick off this tough stretch of play.
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