The 76ers played Game 2 of the NBA Quarterfinals last night against the Chicago Bulls in the United Center. Derrick Rose went down in the opener with a torn ACL that will end his playoff run and provide some question marks heading into Novermber regarding his health. That said, the Bulls played well to the tune of 18-9 in games missed by Rose, and had capable teammates looking to step their game up during his absence.
I don’t think those teammates got the memo last night, but the 76ers young duo of Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner were the ones to make the plays after the loss of Rose. Holiday and Turner had two of their best games in their young careers last night in Chicago as the Sixers tied the series 1-1 in a 109-92 win over the Bulls. Turner had a near Lebron-like stat line recording 19 points, 7 boards, and 6 assists. Holiday scored a playoff career high 26 points to go along with 6 assists and 2 boards.
It has been a long journey to finally see these two players getting heavy minutes in big pressure games. Holiday has been a consistent starter for the last two seasons, while Turner has struggled to get quality minutes. Jodie Meeks has played the spoiler in his development as he started most of the games at the two-guard position this season, aside from a few weeks in March and April.
The litmus test for young players will always be performance in the postseason. It can be easy to put up great stats during the regular season when most teams go through the motions and the stakes are low. Turner and Holiday stepped it up in a pressure filled and hostile atmosphere last night, and willed the Sixers to victory.
Philadelphia trailed by 8 at the half, before outscoring the Bulls by 22 points in the third. This attack was led by Holiday and Turner as they seemed to take Bulls by the horn and put them away. Credit must also be given to Lou Williams, and Lavoy Allen (who also played his first extensive AND productive playoff minutes in his young career) who played their roles flawlessly in the 2nd half.
Last season the Indiana Pacers brought a young crew into the playoffs and pushed the Bulls to five very tight affairs. The experience paid off for the team as they catapulted their way from the 8 seed to the third best record in the East this season.
If the young Sixers duo can show their A-game throughout these playoffs, I think this will be the turning point to a new chapter in franchise history. May 1, 2012 might have been the night when that page was finally turned.