NBA Playoffs 2012: Spencer Hawes Shines as Sixers Take Commanding Series Lead

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 06:  Spencer Hawes #00 of the Philadelphia 76ers celebrates a 3 point shot at the end of the first half against the Chicago Bulls in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center on May 6, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Who would have guessed that the Philadelphia 76ers most inconsistent player this season would prove to be the linchpin of their playoff success. Spencer Hawes was brilliant once again on Sunday as he compiled 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including one key three pointer at the end of the first half.

Hawes was ultimately the stabilizing force for a Sixers team that could not find its groove offensively in the second and third quarters of a crucial Game 4 against the Chicago Bulls.

Other key contributors in the Sixers' 89-82 Game 4 win were Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday, the only other Philadelphia players to score in double figures.

Iguodala turned in his best game of the series playing on a gimpy Achilles, posting 14 points and 12 rebounds in addition to three key steals. Iguodala played a team-high 43 minutes, and although his shot selection may be questionable at times, you have to admire his toughness.

Holiday shot just 30 percent from the field, but posted 20 points in 41 minutes of work. Holiday caught fire in the fourth quarter and hit two clutch threes down the stretch that ultimately solidified a Sixer win.

Without Joakim Noah in the frontcourt, the Bulls struggled to find any consistent source of offense for a second consecutive game. Their most reliable scorer this series, Richard Hamilton, posted just seven points on 3-of-9 shooting. Credit Jrue Holiday with some impressive off-ball defense on Hamilton and sharpshooter Kyle Korver.

With a commanding 3-1 series lead, the scene shifts back to Chicago for a Game 5 that will certainly be full of intensity.

Closing out this series on enemy turf won't be easy, but the Sixers have proven that they are a gritty team that's capable of closing things out in the fourth quarter. Seems like they have come a long way in just a few short weeks.