It wasn't too long ago, when things were going really swell with the 76ers, that coach Doug Collins said it was his job to find out exactly what he has in the group of Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Andre Iguodala.

What he had for the better part of the remainder of the regular season, was a team that stumbled its way to the finish line, was sometimes petulant and looked very much as if it just wanted the season to end.

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Who knew?

Who knew after a season that looked lost for the better part of eight weeks, that Collins would find out - in the crucible called the NBA playoffs - these youngsters upon whom so much is riding would finally have a true coming out party together. And in the same backcourt in the second game of the playoffs against the top seed in the East.

I didn't. And you - those of you wanting this team pulled apart as soon as these playoffs are concluded - who scoffed at the notion that making the playoffs was a waste of time, didn't know, either.

Although exhibit A came Tuesday night against a Bulls team that was without its best player - and many of their fans as a huge swathe of them opted to exit well before the Sixers concluded their 109-92 blowout - it can't be argued that, while Collins was stubborn, he finally put Turner and Holiday on the floor and got the results fans of the team have been waiting for so long.

Holiday hit 10 of his first 11 shots, made 11 of 15 from the field and finished with a game-high 26 points. He also finished with six assists and not a single turnover. Turner got the better of veteran Richard Hamilton, finishing with 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

They were part of an ensemble that put its foot down on the Bulls' throats early in the second quarter and never relinquished the hold.

Against the best defense in the league the Sixers made 59 percent of their field goals. They out-rebounded the best rebounding team in the league, 38-32.

The Sixers outscored the Bulls, 62-37, in the second half. The difference was the third quarter, a dominant display by the underdogs when the Sixers made 15 of 28 field goals (68.1 percent) and outscored the Bulls, 36-14.

And now, as a result, with the next two games at what should be a reverberating Wells Fargo Center, the Sixers have unexpectedly captured home-court advantage and on Friday and Sunday will have the opportunity to take control of this series against the Bulls.

The entire city of Chicago had been in mourning since superstar guard Derrick Rose went down with a torn left ACL in the waning moments of the Bulls' Game 1 victory. Even without Rose in the lineup the top-seeds have been formidable. Their 18-9 record in the 27 games he missed is impressive enough. But during that stretch of games without Rose the Bulls still led the league in rebounding, defense and point differential, and recorded victories over Miami, Boston, Orlando and Atlanta.

But the position that these Bulls are just as good without Rose as they are with him is preposterous. Replacement C.J. Watson and his backup, John Lucas III, are nice little players who have had some success in this league, but neither comes close to breaking down defenses and putting the type of pressure on defenses that Rose does perhaps better than any point guard in the league.

Don't forget that even with the myriad of injuries Rose lugged into the playoffs, he still came up just a rebound and an assist shy of a triple-double in Game 1.

That the Bulls simply aren't the same team without Rose was made clear for all to see on Tuesday.

That the Sixers, who once looked as if they were playing out the string, have a chance of taking this series, is clear.

Contact John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com. Follow @JmitchInquirer on Twitter.