Monday night's showdown between the 5-2 Sixers and the 6-2 Pacers lost some luster when Danny Granger (food poisoning) was a scratched. Still, they all look the same in the standings as the Sixers won their fifth straight game.
Three things we saw:
1. Rook isn't shook: Nikola Vucevic has earned a meaningful role on this team. For the second straight game, he was the first big off the bench, entering early in the first quarter. He's responded by averaging 10.0 points and 9.0 boards despite playing just 18 minutes per night in the last two. That kind of production at the NBA level doesn't come easy, proving Vucevic has a bring long-term future.
2. National attention: Even before Monday night, the Sixers were ranked seventh by ESPN's Marc Stein in his weekly power ratings. And four of ESPN's basketball writers pegged the Sixers as the fifth-best team in the NBA. Which begs the question -- why was the Wells Fargo Center a ghost town on Monday?
3. Trouble with Elton: After an impressive bounce-back season last year, Brand has regressed badly. He looks slow, un-athletic and simply overmatched. He's now scored in single digits in four of the team's eight games and has double-digit rebounds just once. The Sixers' best lineup currently doesn't include Brand.
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