Monday , Nov , 06 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Was Sixers best move the one they didn’t make?

(Sports Network) – It’s early, in fact it’s very early in the NBA season.
However, Philadelphia is off to its best start since the 2000-01 campaign when
it won its first 10 games of the regular season and made it all the way to the
championship round.

Rumors swirled all summer regarding possible trades involving All-Star guard
Allen Iverson. The Georgetown product said he wanted to remain with the
Sixers, who finished 38-44 in 2005-06 and did not qualify for the playoffs for
the second time in three years, and win a championship in the City of
Brotherly Love.

Team president Billy King did not get what he was looking for in a deal for
his franchise player. So, Iverson remained with the franchise that drafted him
out of Georgetown with the first overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft.

Even though the NBA season has just started, the best move by the Sixers may
be the one they didn’t make.

The 31-year-old Iverson is off to an impressive start in 2006-07 and is once
again playing like a man on a mission. Iverson scored 31 points and dished out
13 assists, both game-highs, to lead Philadelphia to a 107-98 victory over the
defending world champion Miami Heat at the Wachovia Center.

Philadelphia was down by seven, 57-50, at the half. But it bounced back in the
third quarter, outscoring the Heat 28-16 and took a five-point advantage into
the final quarter. The 76ers held on and left the court with a solid nine-
point victory.

“When we came out in the second half we came out like we weren’t trying to win
a basketball game,” said Iverson. “I think that motivated us and we got back
on the floor.”

Sharp-shooting Kyle Korver continued to stay hot out of the gate, as he scored
22 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor, including 5-for-6 from beyond
the arc.

“I’ve been getting open,” said Korver. “A lot of that is the guys are setting
great screens and Allen (Iverson) is looking for me. I’ve been able to get a
good rhythm, hit my first couple shots the last couple games and that [has
built] my confidence.”

Andre Iguodala also played well in the win over Miami. The athletic forward
scored 20, grabbed seven boards and dished out five assists in 35 minutes of
action.

The Sixers shot 45.6 percent (36-for-79) from the field, including an
impressive 9-for-18 (50 percent from beyond the arc. Philadelphia outrebounded
Miami, which played without All-Star center Shaquille O’Neal, 43-40.

Philadelphia did allow the Heat to shoot 50 percent (36-for-72) from the
field.

“We didn’t play defense as well as we would have liked in the first half,”
said Philadelphia head coach Maurice Cheeks. “The second half was a lot
better. Fifty-seven points in the first half and 41 points in the second half
– that was obviously the difference in the game. In the first half we took a
lot of quick shots and we didn’t drive the basketball the way that we had been
talking about.

“In the second half, we drove the ball and got into the penalty a lot earlier.
I think the first half, they shot 21 foul shots and we limited them to five
foul shots I believe over the second half. Our ability to pass the ball, drive
the ball in the second half was key, and playing defense in the second half
was good for us.”

Against Miami, it was Iguodala, Iverson and Korver leading the team to a
victory. Center Samuel Dalembert and forward Chris Webber did not have good
games versus the Heat, but they are key players for the Sixers and on any
given day it could be one of them who helps lead the club to a win.

The Sixers and their fans are excited about the quick start. But the fact
remains that there is a long way to go. Injuries and losing streaks can creep
up very quickly.

Iverson is playing in his 11th season and is still performing at a very high
level. If the Sixers continue to win consistently throughout the season and
they make the playoffs, King’s best move was holding onto Iverson and he will
look very good.

King chose to keep the same nucleus in place, as he did not make any
significant moves during the offseason. Instead, he and Cheeks said they would
win more games with the same players. A new attitude and better defense is
going to be the difference.

However, Philadelphia is not in the class of Cleveland, Detroit, Miami or even
New Jersey. Yes, the 76ers look good but they are not going to win a
championship with the current makeup of the roster.

Everyone in Philly is happy now, but what will it be like in April?