Dumb Writer #1 and Dumb Writer #2.
Now, NY Daily News -- and NY Post -- are publications of which I loathe to read any section, so it took my boy Cook to point me to these lazy pieces of journalism. (Not that all of the major sports publications aren't saddled with their own shabby writing.) But, right after watching the NY Knicks defeat the Philadelphia 76ers at the Garden last night, Cook and I predicted there would be some dumbwriter that would draw for the easy "the Sixers were playing their third game in three nights and were tired" excuse. And right on cue...What is almost comical is the offhanded way in which the second dumbwriter constantly refers back to the Sixers 3-in-3 stretch and their supposedly-tired legs. "The Knicks could've pulled away, but didn't manage to against a team that must've had dead legs..."
Now, perhaps you're thinking that the 3-in-3 stretch was, in fact, a plausible excuse. Allow me to halt your thinking in its tracks. To start, Philly is a young team, among the youngest in the NBA. If there's anyone equipped to handle a brutal stretch, it's them, even taking into account the fast pace at which they play. However, was this stretch really brutal? The first two games were in Philly, and the third in NY. With the lack of travel, you might as well just call that three home games. Hell, with Philly players typically calling New Jersey their home, there's a very real chance there is a Sixer or two for whom the trip to the Garden was a shorter commute. But here's the real kicker: the second game, the one just prior to last night, was a blowout. A laugher. A brutal 27-point beatdown (of the Sacramento Kings). None of the Sixer starters even played the 4th quarter; all but one played under 30 minutes. Outside of Holliday and Turner (a sub), the top rotation guys logged 29, 25, 22, 22, and 21 minutes. THIS is the team you think is so worn out? Give me a freakin' break.
Last weekend, Oklahoma City had a 3-in-3 swing where they had to fly to Houston, then back home, in between the games. Then, after an off-day, they had another back-to-back (so, 5 games in 6 nights). That is a brutal stretch. A 3-game stretch with 2 home games, the 2nd a blowout, and a 90 mile trip on New Jersey Transit? Boo hoo cry me a river.
Now, if these writers were angling for excuses, for mitigating factors to devalue the Knicks win, they might have noticed that the Sixers starting center, Spencer Hawes, got injured in that second game and didn't play the Knicks. Hawes has been getting print all over sports websites for his surprising early-season play. Scan both articles above; neither of the words "Spencer" nor "Hawes" even appear once! Two writers and neither of them noticed the opponent was without their starting center? One of the most improved players in the entire league so far? What the hell do they pay these sportswriters for?
Hawes being out had much more to do with last night's game than some cookie-cutter lazy notion of tired legs. Anybody who watched that game and surmised the Sixers were tired needs to visit their optometrist. Hawes being out obviously altered the Sixers rotation, disrupting their bench which, as the writers pointless trotted out, is among the league leaders in scoring. Well, lo and behold, late in the 1st and 3rd quarters -- when the bench came in -- the Knicks went on big runs, 14-2 to end the first. Those two runs effectively decided the game, forcing Philly to play uphill all night long. Hmm, an offensive eruption against a bench playing their first game with an altered rotation. Gee, who would'a thunk it. Seriously, this really is not rocket science, people.