Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Sixers put a king-sized ass whipping on the Hawks last night in Atlanta. They have pretty much guaranteed themselves a playoff spot with their improved play, although winning a series remains a pipe dream. But next year…

Next season the Sixers have the players in place to host a playoff series and be real contenders to represent the Eastern Conference as the team that loses to the Heat before Miami goes on to the finals. The Celtics are an older bunch, and hopefully getting closer to a time when their big 3 is merely Rondo, Perkins, and Davis. The Magic are the most likely team to drop off, since next season they’ll be under the same gun currently aimed at downtown Denver. If Dwight Howard appears poised to leave for greener pastures the tension could cause the team to under perform.

The Sixers must do their part in all this. The young guys such as Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams, Evan Turner and Thad Young must continue to improve. The Sixers have to resign Thad, or at least manufacture a sign and trade that recoups his value. Elton Brand is the only main contributor that you could see regress with age, the rest of the team should improve with another year under their belts, and as Brand slips off a touch, he’ll just have to sacrifice more of his minutes to Thaddeus Young until Thad eventually ends up as our starting power forward.

Andre Iguodala has played out of his mind recently, and deserves serious consideration for defensive player of the year, and, if this play continues, a spot in the 2012 all-star game. Andre is the team’s leader, but he isn’t a traditional star. Iggy is very unselfish, which makes him a dangerous playmaker, but also prevents him from being an elite scorer. As long as Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams can keep scoring in the teens nightly, then the Sixers shouldn’t be adversely affected by Iggy’s style of play. Ideally I’d like to see Jrue Holiday play like a second shooting guard if Iguodala is going to control the offense. I think Jrue should probably be given more direction to shoot the basketball, and I want Jrue to emerge as the team’s leader in both scoring and field goal attempts.

The Sixers will have a solid rotation of Iggy, Brand, Young, Jrue, Lou, ET, and Jodie Meeks. You may have picked up the issue with that rotation, that there aren’t any big men listed. Mo Speights will return next season, but Mo isn’t a starter, he is another high-energy offensive minded reserve. Which is ok, if you can get somebody starting with more talent then Spencer Hawes. Looking around the Eastern Conference, the Sixers have to contend with Shaq & Perkins, Dwight Howard, Al Horford, and Amare. Spencer Hawes is not up to the task, and the Sixers must upgrade if they want to get to the next level. Currently on the trade market, it appears Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby may be available, although neither would be a long term solution. In the free agency pool this off season there will be Perkins, Tyson Chandler and Yao Ming, but the Sixers can’t afford anybody under the cap right now.

By not trading anybody thus far the Sixers have grown into a nice little team, and one that should only improve with time. It will be up to the front office to find moves that fix the team’s glaring issue in the middle, while maintaining the rest of a fairly talented roster. Rod Thorn has a history of making savvy moves, let’s hope he has one or two more in him, since that may be all this team needs.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Philadelphia 76ers, a team predicted by just handful of NBA writers and experts to make the playoffs, have a record thus far of 21-26. The Sixers are currently in position to be the 7th seed in the playoffs, and are playing much better basketball than the handful of teams currently chasing them in the standings. For me, the Sixers are a very rare team in that they are both underachieving and underrated.

This team has struggled in close games, which is a combination of young players learning how to win and veterans forgetting how to get it done. Late in games your “best player” Elton Brand has failed to come through time and time again. I like Elton and appreciate the hard work he is putting in, but Brand isn’t getting it done late in games when the veterans are supposed to step up. Andre Iguodala, who has been injured for much of the season, has returned and he is playing some of the best basketball of his career, naturally the fans eyes have turned to him to fix these late game woes.

Three of our late game meltdowns go beyond ‘growing pains’, they get filed away as ‘full scale nuclear meltdowns’. Detroit on January 8th, Orlando on Jan 19th, and Memphis on Jan 28th, those are the three that are indictments of this team’s lack of leadership. In Detroit, Lou Williams had two free throws to close the game out and missed both. In Orlando the Sixers were up 5 with under 30 seconds to play and couldn’t close. Against Memphis, at home no less, they blew a 22 point lead to an inferior opponent. These losses aren’t your average meltdowns, they are EPIC breakdowns. If anyone paid attention to the team, or supported their playoff push, they would be beside themselves. If this were the Eagles that lost games in this fashion Mayor Nutter would have to call in the national guard.

One of the biggest stories of the season has been the resurgence of the New York Knicks and Amar’e Stoudemire’s emergence as an MVP candidate. Without those three losses the Sixers would be 21-10 in their last 31 games, and they’d be a game behind New York for the 6th seed going into a home and home this weekend. This is again evidence of the lack of attention the Sixers get, if the Sixers overtake the Knicks, how much consideration will Andre Iguodala get for MVP, any? Did you chuckle at the thought? Andre Iguodala can’t even get mentioned for all-star consideration let alone MVP talk. In fact, I will bet the farm that Iguodala doesn’t even get a spot on the second all-defense team.

The chance to undo what has been done is not going to appear, with just those three wins back the Sixers would be 5 ½ games behind Atlanta and 5 behind Orlando, tough but not impossible defecits to erase given their overall improved play, but 8 ½ and 9 game holes are indeed too deep to climb out of. So the Sixers will set their sights on .500 and the Knicks in the 6th seed. Andre Iguodala is going to be given the chance to lead the team to those goals, as Doug Collins has announced Andre will play more as a point-forward.

From this point forward (See what I did there? A pun!) the term growing pains is not allowed in the team’s vocabulary, instead the team must lose that comfort, they must lose the chance to shrug losses off and not take it personally. Iguodala scorched his teammates the other night after the loss to Memphis, and now he is being given control of the team on the floor as well as in the locker room. Iguodala now must take this opportunity and make the most of it, Iggy needs to drop triple-doubles weekly, and get this team winning as much as possible. The Sixers need to finish 6th in the eastern conference and hope that they can upset a young Bulls team that hasn’t yet won a playoff series under superstar and likely league MVP Derrick Rose. Andre Iguodala needs to show the NBA that he isn’t a second tier talent, and that he needs to be mentioned among the league’s most dynamic wing players right after Wade, James, Anthony, Bryant, and Durant. The remainder of this season is a chance for the Sixers, and Iggy, to show that they have been, thus far, underrated and that they have underachieved. These final 35 games also are a chance to shake those labels, and announce that they (the team and Iguodala individually) are up to the challenge of being one of the best in the East.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

1/26 Vs. The Raptors

I'm going to leave out any entries that are not much more than play-by-play. For those that actually read this stuff, feel free to drop a line and give your opinion on the column, how it reads and how to improve it.

Pregame- First off, we can not lose three straight games to a team as poor as the Raptors. The Sixers have looked good lately, which makes me worry that they have one of their meltdowns in store tonight. The pregame show has the guys talking about Elton Brand, referring to him as Mr. Reliable, I am not so high on Elton at the moment. I was digging into the numbers in an attempt to support my theory that Brand disappears after the 1st quarter. Ultimately, Brand’s production dips in the middle of games which makes sense since his minutes also wane during the 2nd and 3rd quarters, but Elton is damn near nonexistent in the 4th quarter. Just 2.3 points per game in the fourth quarter for Brand, a distressing number considering how many tight contests the Sixers have been in, and how many of those they have lost.

1st Quarter-

12:00- Same starting lineup as always, I’m so sick of Hawes. What happened to him, where is the guy from the first half of December? Although what does it say about Mo Speights, that in spite of Hawes’ consistently disappointing play Mo can’t get himself into the starting five.

10:00- Iggy with a steal and a powerful dunk. If we’re going to make Iguodala into the NBA’s Darrelle Revis, then we should steal the nickname as well. Iguodala Island?

9:00- Jrue and Elton collide while trying to secure a rebound, Raptors regain possession. This game is being played very sloppily and with a very frantic pace.

6:00- The Sixers are flying these past few minutes. Hawes, Jrue, and Brand all with big dunks. In fact we aren’t doing much on offense aside from the handful of slams.

3:00- The Sixers look like shit. Aside from a few nice assists on those slam dunks, the team isn’t defending well or executing anything resembling an offensive play.

1:00- This game sucks, this is no fun to watch at all.

End of the 1st- Just a god awful quarter for the Sixers. After the great victory over Phoenix on Monday, they come out tonight with an absolute turd of a 1st quarter. Anyway, it stands 29-20, Toronto is up after 12 minutes.

2nd Quarter-

12:00- The Sixers have been pounding the front of the rim tonight, almost all of their misses have been short.

10:00- Jrue with a nice runner, ET to Mo for an easy 2, the Sixers look MUCH better, but I’m still going to be pissy.

9:00- Speights with an offensive rebound, and a three-point play on the putback! Iggy sets up Mo for 2 more, and Speights has 9 in less than 5 minutes.

7:00- Sixers are on a 13-2 run to open the quarter, and take the lead. Where was this team in the 1st quarter.

6:00- More for Mo Speights! 13 now! My boy looks crazy good! Btw, Brand's best quarter this season was good for 14 points. As long as I decided to rip on Brand, why let up now?

4:00- Speights with a pair of free throws, and then a putback. 17 points for Mo, all in this quarter!

3:00- I think the Raptors just had someone stab Mo Speights to slow him down. Mo off to the locker room to treat his bloody arm, not sure how that actually happened.

2:00- WTF? DeMar DeRozan has 15 points tonight. What is it about mediocre guards that torments this team? Put his ass on Iguodala Island!

1:00- A few good hard fouls by the Sixers, not all of them called, I love to see hard physical play like that. Brand shows his tough streak by flat out shoving a man aside with both hands to grab a board.

Halftime- Half ends tied up at 50-50.

3rd Quarter-

10:00- Jrue Holiday comes out shooting this half and now has 14 points.

8:00- Iguodala with a pair a baskets, one of them a badass dunk. Iguodala is now up to 13, which he has done with a mix a powerful dunks and a few long jumpers.

7:00- Now its Brand with back to back buckets, one of them after a sweet behind the back pass from Iggy at the top of the key down to Brand in the low post.

5:00- Iggy with a steal and he pushes up court into a possession that eventually ends with Hawes at the foul line. After Spencer hits 1 of 2, the Sixers are up 6. I feel like that lead should be bigger, I’m afraid this one could tighten up and then who knows how this one ends.

4:00- The Sixers are on a 9-0 run to push the lead up to 10, a pair of Lou Williams three pointers in the heart of that run.

2:00- Iggy with a strong rebound, that leads to another Lou three pointer, that makes it 78-68 Sixers.

End of 3rd Quarter- ET and Mo return and each hit a jumper. Turner with 4 points, Mo has 19. Lou and DeRozan both hit jumpers in the final 7 seconds to take us into the 4th quarter with the Sixers up 84-76.

4th Quarter-

12:00- Mo has 6 boards to go with the 19 points,, I’m rooting for a double-double. Lineup to start the 4th is Lou, ET, Mo, Thad, and Meeks.

10:00- ET is playing great right now, he has recently nailed a short jumper, threw an alley oop pass to Speights, and then ended up at the line for 2 free throws. 8 points for Turner.

9:00- DeRozan hit’s a jumper that gives him 27 points. Holy hell that’s an insane amount.

6:00- Mo now has 23 points and 9 boards, just one more and he’ll have his first double double of the season.

5:00- The Sixers are up 12, yet they miss back to back three point attempts. I’m not sure those are the shots you want to be shooting with your team up big.

4:00- Brand scores a deuce, I guess that takes care of him for the night since he only scores 2 points a game in the 4th.

3:00- Brand now with 14 points, including 4 in this quarter. I like Elton, but he has been held scoreless in 14 of 43 4th quarters so far this year. That's a third of the Sixers' games.

2:00- Raptors cut the lead to 8, and I can feel my butthole begin to pucker.

1:00- Jrue eases my fears. He gets his 11th assist, then picks Calderon’s pocket forcing a clear path foul. Great sequence by Jrue.

End of the 4th- ET just got punched in the face grabbing a board, but no matter since this game is over. What a great job by the Sixers, 1st quarter aside, they looked as good as they did against Phoenix. Doug Collins only used nine guys tonight, which isn't surprising given how well his reserves played. Speaking of, the Sixers reserves outplayed the starters for a second straight game, over the past two games the bench has scored 116 points in 211 minutes while the starters have given the team 96 points in 270 minutes. The Sixers are now 20-25, and are close to getting to .500. The next three games are certainly winnable, home against Memphis and Denver, and then a road game at the Nets. After that the Sixers would need to sweep a home-and-home with the Knicks and they would be back to .500, of course if that happens then they may even have the 6th seed.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

48 in 48 (CSN permitting) Sixers vs. Suns

Pregame- I’ve been thinking lately that maybe its time for Iggy to take 18 shots or so a game. I’d like to see if he can ever be a 22 points per game player on offense. So let’s up the usage rate and see what happens, although I will admit that Iggy has struggled in the past when he forces his offense. Also, I’d like to see Elton Brand maybe play less in the second and third quarters, because he isn’t a factor late in games. Elton seems to score 8-10 points every first quarter, yet he rarely gets to 20. Maybe I’ll look at the numbers this week on an off day, rather than just talking anecdotally.

First Quarter

12:00- Ugh, four quick points for Robin Lopez, two of them off the offensive glass. No changes to the starting line-up, btw.

11:00- Um, not that shot Iggy. That was a 20-foot brick early in the possession, shoot more, but smart, please.

10:00- Brand in rhythm early, as usual.

9:00- A Channing Frye three-pointer makes it 11-4 Phoenix with just three minutes gone by.

8:00- Nash drives, draws attention, kicks it to a wide open Grant Hill who dribbles closer then knocks down a mid-range jumper. We should be learning, we shoot too many long twos. When the Sixers are open they often just catch and shoot, if they’d just dribble two steps closer, they’d get much easier shots.

7:00- Iggy 0 for 3 early, making me glad I didn’t write that full article about Iggy and usage rates and him needing to shoot more.

6:00- Iggy finds Jodie wide open for a three-pointer. The shot misses, but it was a great job by Iggy to draw defenders and then find the open man.

5:00- Brand with 8 so far. I’m afraid he’s going to finish with just 16. Speaking of 16, Mo Speights has been in for a few minutes now.

4:00- Out of the first TV timeout with Iggy, Jrue, ET, Thad, and Mo on the floor and the Sixers down 19-12. Ok, make that 19-14 after an ET jumper.

3:00- Jrue to the rim for 2, cuts the lead to 19-18. I love when we play poor defensive teams, this will be a fun game to watch.

2:00- ET with a pull-up J at the foul line, making him 2 for 2 early. I wonder if Hawes is going to score tonight.

1:00- TV timeout after ET puts Jared Dudley on the floor. We are back and Lou Williams enters the game just in time to miss a shot during the final possession of the quarter.

End of the 1st- Another assist for ET, his second. Lou hit’s a quick jumper to get the Sixers the final possession, and so he can shoot a long two. WOW! ET with the final shot, a fade away from the foul line with Vince Carter covering him tightly. That would be an airball, why isn’t Lou shooting there?

Second Quarter

12:00- Nocioni scores for the first time since 1/8 in Detroit. Nocioni, ET, Lou, Thad, and Mo make up the current group on the floor.

11:00- ET with a miss, I hope he keeps on shooting. A Thad Young steal ends with a Mo Speights putback.

10:00- Elton Brand back in, and he puts the thump on Dudley. Elton is the toughest dude we have by far.

9:00- ET with another jumper for 2. Nice shot, but maybe you could move in a step before firing that long a two-point shot.

8:00- Elton with a very tough inside basket, and the foul. FT will follow the commercial, technical foul on Alvin Gentry. So the Sixers may get a FOUR POINT PLAY!

7:00- Thad carves his way through the defense, and puts the Sixers up 10. That seems high, is it really 10? I feel like that number snuck up on me.

6:00- Well the lead is quickly down to 5.

5:00- Wow! Nash just drilled a 38-foot jumper with 1 second left on the shot clock. So nonchalant.

4:00- ET gets aggressive and gets in close before shooting the jumper. A ton of minutes for ET so far.

3:00- Jrue steal and lay-up. ET with a board, passes to Iggy who gives Thad a beautiful lob for the oop. Big dunk there. Thad Young steals the ball and he just misses returning the favor and lobbing to Iggy. Iggy to the line after that one.

2:00- ET continues to smother Grant Hill on defense, he got at least one block on that sequence. Btw, Brand now has 13 points on 6 of 8 shooting.

1:00- Back from the break and ET, Lou, Jrue, Iggy and Thad are out there for a tiny line-up. So Thad Young is playing Center. Thad with back-to-back scores, I think we can say Thad is now the team’s most productive center tonight by far!

End of 2nd- Lou connects on a lob to Thad, Gortat answers with a jumper over the shorter Thad Young at the horn, so we go to the break with the Sixers up 61-47. Great first half for the Sixers. ET scored 10, Thad had 14, Elton with 13 , and Lou has 8.

Halftime- Yay! Brian James and his rotating head. We need more of that play for sure. The Sixers looked awesome that half. If things tighten up, I’d like to see Iguodala step up.

3rd Quarter

12:00- Hawes sitting to start the half. Thad still at center?

11:00- That 14 point lead has dwindled to 9 pretty quickly.

10:00- Brand (our center) with a bucket, a board, and another bucket. 17 points for Brand.

9:00- Thad with a fancy bounce pass to Iggy for a vicious slam. Brand has 19 now, can he break 20 and make a jerk out of me?

8:00- The Sixers look really good, they’re playing stingy, aggressive defense, running when they can, and hitting open jumpers. I’ll apologize in advance for jinxing the team, sorry everybody.

7:00- The Suns have Frye at center vs. Brand, the Sixers should post Brand up often. Steal by Jrue who alley oops to Iggy,l spectacular two hand finish by Iguodala.

6:00- Another steal by Jrue, that makes 5 now in all. Jrue finds Meeks who misses a three, and eventually ends up at the foul line an offensive rebound and a scrum. ET back in. Jrue with steal number six, and takes it coast to coast for two.

5:00- Suns break out the zone defense. Two consecutive turnovers for the Sixers, I’m not sure that Phoenix is to blame for that, however.

4:00- Lou Williams for 3! Jrue just misses his 7th steal, but even without the steal Jrue disrupted that Suns’ possession.

3:00- Why aren’t we attacking the Suns down low? ET hit’s a jumper and now has 12.

2:00- It looks like Collins might have decided to rest Iggy and his Achilles tendon. Foul on Jared Dudley, and in comes Iggy, that’s funny.

1:00- 7th steal for Jrue (not actually a steal, I have learned), an assist to Brand. And the foul! 22 points for Elton!

End of 3rd- Sixers don’t foul despite having one to give, and Nash drains a 3 at the buzzer. Still, the Sixers head into the 4th quarer up 87-70

12:00- Lou Williams joins the defensive effort by bodying up the bigger Josh Childress, and Lou blocks Childress’ shot!

11:00- Lou gets full body blocked by Dudley as Lou is shooting, but no whistle.

10:00- Dragic scores, we have to keep him from reliving his legendary game from last year against the Spurs when he put up 23 in the 4th quarter alone. That may have been a foul on ET that did not get a call, I guess the refs are done calling fouls.

9:00- ET drives to the basket, gets 2 men to close in on him, and he finds Thad Young for an easy dunk. That was simple and effective.

8:00- Jrue with a lob to Iguodala for yet another dunk! This has been a highlight reel game for sure.

7:00- Meeks hits a 3, negating the effectiveness of the Phoenix zone. Smart play by Sixers, plus they actually executed the play.

6:00- Traveling called on Dragic. That’s the third or fourth traveling violation called on players tonight in that exact moment. They catch the ball at the three point line, but before they can even dribble they draw the whistle.

5:00- ET misses a three, and you could hear an audible sigh from the crowd when he did. Despite his early struggles, the crowd is firmly behind ET.

4:00- Thad still playing “center” playing with Lou, ET, Jodie, and Iguodala.

3:00- Thad still scoring, he’s up to 24 now.

2:00- Mo Speights is back in, ending Thad’s night after a brilliant game.

1:00- Mo Speights hip checks Dragic trying to screen him. We’ll figure out how to set those eventually.

End of the 4th- 11-0 run by Phoenix cuts the lead to 10. Collins with a timeout, and we go to commercial as Doug shouts at the team.

What a game for the Sixers, highlight dunks, tenacious defense, and a blowout win. Just look at some of the number the guys put up tonight:

Thad: 24 points on 11 for 17 shooting, 7 boards, 5 assists, 2 steals and a +27.
ET: 14 points on 6-10 shooting, 8 boards, and 5 assists.
Brand: 22 points on 10 of 15 shooting and 9 rebounds.
Jrue: 8 points on 4 of 9 shooting, 8 assists and 6 steals.
Lou: 14 points, 5 of 9 shooting, and 6 assists

Great game, I’ll see you tomorrow with something about either Brand’s scoring by quarter, or Iggy’s usage rate. See you guys Wednesday.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I’ve been away with work and family, so I didn’t have anything in depth about Thursday night’s loss in Charlotte, except how do the Sixers get beat up by three, count ’em, three marginal players?! Augustin, Mohammed, and Henderson all gave the Sixers fits on Thursday night. How is this team supposed to stop Garnett, Rondo, and Allen if they have to play Boston? Or Rose, Boozer, and Deng against Chicago? I haven’t even brought up Miami, what the hell would happen against Miami? I’m trying my damnedest to get behind this playoff push, but I keep getting hung up on one thing… that it’s a really stupid idea.

The reason it is stupid is because there is nothing to be gained, by playing veterans more to gain these empty victories you stunt the growth of your young talent. There is even a negative financial impact of the Sixers making the playoffs. The Sixers can not win a playoff series, so what is gained by making the playoffs? Two extra home games that will boost your season’s revenue by about 10%. (The extra two games would equal 4.87% of your regular season schedule, with higher ticket prices and the games probably being sellouts you could probably get twice what you normally make for two games during the regular season.) . By shedding some of your assets and trading veteran players who would be under contract for next season ( for example, Iguodala, Lou, Nocioni, or Brand) for a combination of youth, draft picks, and expiring contracts, you would both lower your overhead for next season, thus recouping any money lost by missing those two home playoff dates, and you would acquire pieces that will increase your chances of future success. Putting a quality team on the floor is what will fill the arena every night, not just when LA, Boston and Miami come to town.

I could go on all day about playing the youngsters, and about landing a top talent in the draft. (My current uneducated opinion is that I want Perry Jons or Enes Kanter) But I won’t, at least not today. Tomorrow we play Utah and I’ll be down at the WFC and back to kool-aid drinking and bandwagon driving. I’ll see everybody tomorrow.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

48 in 48, or, more accurately 35 in the 35 they showed during the replay.

I had to work late tonight, so I avoided any news of the game and figured I could write this while I watched the replay at 11pm. I did pretty good, although one text weaseled through my defenses at 8:48, it read “Sorry, but… TURNER!!!” from my buddy Tim who knew I was avoiding the results. I wonder what happens in the late 3rd/early 4th, I guess we’ll see. I will admit it actually makes me excited for this one, since it appears Turner is about to have a big game.

Pregame thoughts- I’ve been very down on Hawes, but he needs to play some semblance of defense if we’re going to stop Howard. Personally, I prefer that we run the ball right at Howard and try to get him in foul trouble early.

1st Quarter-

12:00- The usual starting five for the Sixers. Why doesn’t Gilbert start for Orlando? I liked the trades they made because they got Gilbert, a scorer with some balls. Its weird he comes off the bench, but the again the Magic have been playing great, so I guess its working.

11:00- Brand with a couple of quick bricks, which is unusual for him. Elton typically comes out in an early rhythm.

10:00- Dwight Howard just bulls right through Elton Brand for 2. That is a bit of a mismatch, we might want to avoid that switch in the future.

9:00- Iggy with a great lob pass to Hawes. Alley-oops are for pussies, a real man, Hawes in this case, catches, lands, then dunks.

8:00- Jodie Meeks is 0 for 2 early, Elton Brand 0 for 2 early, Sixers have just 2 points through 4 minutes.

7:00- Hedo with a monster dunk, and the Magic are up 8-2. Surprised that Collins didn’t call a timeout there.

6:00- Ugh, this has been terrible game, I can’t believe I waited all night for this crapfest. 2 points for the Sixers in 5 and a half minutes. Lou checks in, lets try and get him the ball fellas. Btw, crapfest is not a recognized word by Microsoft Word.

5:00- Jrue for 3! The shot rattles around and it hit the rim four or so times before falling. That is about the third or fourth straight game which Jrue’s had a three like that. Btw, what ever happened to Jrue stealing the dribbling under the basket without looking up play that he stole from Nash? We play Phoenix next week, I hope he remembers it watching Nash and puts it back in his repertoire.

4:00- ET in, somehow the Sixers are only down one, despite looking like utter horseshit thus far.

3:00- ET with a rebound and a beautiful outlet pass to Lou, Williams gets hacked and heads to the line. He makes the first to give the Sixers double digits, and the second shot falls to give the Sixers the lead.

2:00- Second foul on Brand, he sits down for Thad Young. And a second foul on Hawes, here comes… Battie? WTF? Put Mo in there. Speights better see some time once Howard goes to the bench for rest.

1:00- ET for 3? Hell yeah, kid. Now a foul is called on Battie, we’d better pace ourselves or else ET is going to end up having to play center tonight. Ugh, a stupid second foul on Holiday.

End of 1st- ET with a drive, and he gets to the line. (10 FT a game is our goal for Turner) Last possession….LOU! STOP DRIBBLING! Well the Magic had us scouted because they doubled Lou Williams when he started to move in for his long jumper at the buzzer, so Lou kicked it to ET for a rushed long three-point attempt.

AHHH!!! WTF????

Due to time constraints we’re rejoining the action with 7minutes left in the 3rd quarter. This is gay.

3rd quarter-

6:00- Hawes gets his 4th foul.

5:00- Lou dribbles out the shot clock, turnover by the Sixers. Great play by Battie on the next trip down the court, with just two seconds on the shot clock Battie pumped and got Howard in the air, then drew the foul which is Howard’s 4th.

4:00- Sweet ass reverse by ET! He has 8 points and 7 rebounds so far.

3:00- Baseline dunk for Turner! Lou then drives for two on a lay-up. The magic have ZERO inside defense with Howard on the bench. Big hustle play by Jrue diving on a ball ET poked free.

2:00- ET is guarding Orlando PF Ryan Anderson, nobody is guarding Jameer Nelson apparently as he walks down the lane for an easy 2.

1:00- Lou and Jrue with back to back lay-ups. Btw, Orlando is going to get bounced in the playoffs quickly if this is their defense without Howard, they might be a tough match-up for Miami, but I think Atlanta and especially Boston could eliminate them. Even New York in the first round if Amare can get Howard to the bench early.

End of 3rd- Another easy lay-up by Nelson is answered by a Thaddeus Young lay-up on the other end, and now I’m told Thad is 6 for 6, although I didn’t see the first 5. And Lou Williams WASTES THE FINAL POSSESSION by jacking a 30-foot jumper. This is like some bad joke, every game with these terrible buzzer beaters.

4th Quarter-

12:00- Are we really up 7? That’s nuts, although we tend to melt down in the 4th on the road, so we’ll see. The quarter starts with Mo Speights drawing the foul by smacking Howard right in the elbow with his face twice! Come on Mo, you gotta be smarter than that! ET commits another foul, making it 2 in the first 15 seconds of the quarter, I have a hunch this may end up costing the Sixers later in this 4th quarter.

11:00- Thad with a bucket, he’s now 7 for 7.

10:00- 5 quick points for Ryan Anderson, the lead is cut to 3. Wait, a dunk by J-Rich makes it just 1.

9:00- Mo fouls Howard, and the lead is gone. The Sixers then blow a 3 on 1 fastbreak.

8:00- Jrue gets Howard to commit foul #5. Howard to the bench! Sixers are up 1, and Jrue is sniffing at a triple-double.

7:00- I was about to start bitching about Iggy not playing offense, but there he goes with a bucket. Which the announcers tell me is his first.

6:00- Ryan Anderson, or “White Jordan” as I think we should start calling him based on tonight, now has 20 points. Back to back turnovers by Philly.

***Quick note: Why do the cable listings say this goes until 1:00am, its 12:10 and there’s only half a quarter left. Is OT coming? It better be, because If they cut a quarter and a half so they could fit in the post-game show I’ll be pissed.

5:00- Brand gets his 5th foul, and Lou pushes the team’s consecutive turnover streak to 3.

4:00- Brand and Howard are both playing with 5 fouls. Everybody go attack Howard!

3:00- And now the cable has gone all Sopranos. Ugh, I’m gonna flick as long as CN8 is broken.

3:00- We are back from technical difficulties, the score is Magic 82- Sixers 80, Brand has fouled out, and there is 2:40 to go.

2:00- Wow! Jrue ties it up with a tough baseline jumpshot.

1:00- And now Jrue gives the Sixers the lead, a beautiful floater there by Holiday, Hedo quickly ties the game back up.

End of 4th- Iggy takes the lead back! Howard fouls out! And a Tech! (Sorry for all the exclamation points, but this is pretty exciting) Uh-oh, Lou is in dribble mode… Iggy gets the ball and gets to the line. The Sixers are up 5 with 28.6 left on the clock. How is OT possible? We’re not gonna win, are we? Redick blows by Lou for an easy lay-up. Lou hit’\s a foul shot, and the lead is 4 with 21.8 to go. How can this go to OT? Oh, because of a mother-fucking four point play!!!!!!!! I am angry, and think I want to mock Iguodala’s claim that he is the best defender in the league after that four-point play. There is time for a final play, but you already know what play the Sixers run. I do have a few comments on Lou’s barely missed three pointer at the buzzer.

1. Why a three pointer, the game is tied.
2. There were four seconds left when you shot and your defender was in the air, drive the damn ball!
3. Or lean into the guy, that’s Lou’s move for crying out loud!
4. Why the fade on that shot? Is it because you don’t want to make Sportscenter unless you can look badass doing it?
5. How did that shot (flawed as it was) not fall? That ball hit the rim three times, and then rolled in and out. Damn that was close.

So after White Jordan misses a desperation three, we are heading to overtime.


5:00- Thad is taking the jumpball, where is Mo at? We have a tiny line-up out there.

4:00- Iggy airball, Bass misses too, no score for the first minute.

3:00- Redick with another lay-up, maybe he should be White Jordan instead. Iggy comes back and ties it up, but a Nelson 3 breaks that tie.

2:00- Brilliant play here by Iggy. First a vicious dunk, then nice help D on Bass who was bullying the smaller Young by the basket, then Iggy grabs the board, and finishes this mini-run by dropping a jumper! Wow!

1:00- That was the Magic’s second, yes second, four point play of the game, this time by new white Jordan, JJ Redick. I have written a haiku to hoping poetry can channel my rage after that play:

Fucking four point play?
Oh my God, not another
Fucking four point play.

End of the OT- An ugly, but effective play cuts the lead to 1. The Sixers will have the final possession….Iggy drives, but it rolls in and out, ET grabs the board and chucks up an ugly shot that misses! How is that not a foul???!!!?? That’s it, Sixers lose. Damn it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

PSP Mid-season Report Card

Welcome to the PSP Mid-season Report Card. We're about to assign letter grades to each member of the 76ers based on their first half performance. I’d like to note that I’m grading on a curve, obviously less was expected from Jodie Meeks than was expected from Evan Turner, so it will be tougher for ET to get a better grade. For me, it breaks down like this:

A: A player that is greatly outperforming their expectations, has earned new roles, and that avoids exposing any weaknesses in their game.

B: A player who is in most cases living up to, or exceeding the expectations laid out for them.

C: A player who is, as Mike Singletary so eloquently said, who we thought they were.

D: D is for disappointment, ‘nuff said.

F: F is for failure. Somebody failing to make even the most basic of contributions.

So lets get going.

A: Lou Williams. One Sixer got an A, It’s Lou and that’s it. Coming into the season Lou was supposed to be your third or fourth guard. If Jason Kapono played well in his role as starting SF at the season’s beginning, then Iguodala would have remained the starting SG and Evan Turner would have at been the third option, forcing Lou further down the line. That’s not the way it has gone down, and Lou has become the team’s most reliable scorer. In crunch time, Lou is the guy you want with the ball in his hands. Lou leads the team in FTAs, which seems like it should be impossible for a third guard to do. Lou’s ability to get to the line enables him to get points every night, even when his shot is off. Lou has come so far that he is now the Sixers’ first choice to take big shots, and Lou has actually gone from 4th guard to the closer, I’d say that’s out-performing your job title. Lou can be a real candidate for 6th man of the year if he continues with his current level of play.

B: Elton Brand. The resurgence of Elton Brand is a big reason for the success the Sixers have had this year. I briefly considering giving Brand an A for his return to relevance, but then I remembered that he makes $15 million, and that he was signed to be the savior of this franchise. So no A for Elton, but I will give credit where its due. Brand has played great this year, showing flashes of the player that made two All-Star teams. Elton is also the toughest player we have, often giving the hard fouls and often stepping in when his smaller teammates are jawing with an opponent. I’m afraid the best of Brand’s career is over, his numbers for the year look exactly like you might have expected they would when he signed with the Sixers three summers back. The problem is that his numbers this year aren’t where Brand was at his peak, and you shouldn’t expect that they would be, since at 31 he is likely on the decline. The issue is that we missed his peak due to injuries (and Eddie Jordan). When we signed Elton we overpaid, and we knew it. The Sixers figured they would get a couple of All-Star seasons where Elton would lead them to the playoffs, and they would learn to win. After those first few years, Elton would decline a bit, but the youngsters will have grown into the support he needs for the Sixers to stay competitive. None of that happened, Elton got hurt, Eddie Jordan stifled the growth of our young talent, and we missed both the playoffs and the end of Brand' most productive years.

B: Jrue Holiday. Jrue has emerged nicely in his second season, Jrue continues to get better, and has completely dodged the dreaded sophomore jinx. Teams now have to game plan for Jrue, yet he stays very productive. The only complaints are Jrue still commits too many turnovers, and Jrue tends to disappear late in games. The reason the Sixers struggle in close games is because the young guys like Jrue aren’t stepping up. When Jrue matures a bit more, and when he becomes a playmaker in late-game situations it will raise the ceiling of the team by 5-10 wins, depending on how adept Jrue becomes at late game heroics.

B: Jodie Meeks. Meeks is a guy who obviously has exceeded expectations. If you would have told us fans that Meeks would be the starter at SG and that we’d make the playoffs, I’m not sure I would have went for that one. But there he is and here we are. Meeks’ outside shooting spreads the floor and helps the rest of the team by creating space for them to operate. I considered giving Jodie an A since he has so greatly exceeded expectations, but really he is a one-dimensional player, who happens to be given minutes because his one dimension fills a void. Jodie is in the right place for his skill set, so while I think he’s done a real nice job, let’s not get carried away with what Jodie is.

C: Thaddeus Young. Thaddeus gets a high C as a compromise more than anything since I can’t remember a single game this year when I feel like Thad played at a C level. With Thad it feels like its an ‘A or B‘, or a ‘D or F’, Still Thaddeus is back to being the kind of player he was in the past, before the dark times, before Eddie Jordan. Thaddeus just needs to play more consistent basketball and to remember to lay off the long two point jump shots.

C: Andre Iguodala. Iggy gets a C due to injuries limiting his impact for much of the year. Iggy’s scoring has been down this year, but he has really ratcheted up his defensive intensity. Credit Doug Collins with getting him to be more committed to defending, Iggy also seems like he is less focused on being the primary offensive weapon. When Iguodala’s scoring is forced, and doesn’t come naturally in the flow of the game, then he often hurts the team as much as he helps it.

C: Mo Speights, Andres Nocioni, Tony Battie. These three are exactly what they’ve always been. Mo is an all-O/no-D center who often scores in bursts, but doesn’t get enough minutes to really effect the team. Although, with Hawes recent ups and downs, maybe Mo might get a shot at a starting role. I’m not judging this team on what they could be, just what they are, and Mo has been exactly what we expected (not a bad thing). Tony Battie is the opposite of Mo, he also has been what you expected, except Tony is an all-D/no-O center that doesn’t get enough minutes to change any opinions. Nocioni has been a pesky defender, a quiet, yet effective rebounder, and a sometimes shooter. Andres has gotten a lot more minutes than Battie or Mo, and even a bunch of starts, but ultimately he is, like Mo and Battie, exactly the player he always has been.

D: Evan Turner. First, the good. Evan Turner has shown himself to be a very nice defender, ET has played his way into the late game line-up as a defensive stopper. ET also has shown flashes of being a great rebounder for a shooting guard. Now the bad. ET has made NO impact on the offensive end to speak of. Turner appears tentative when he has the ball in the half court, and is sometimes ignored by his teammates despite being open. Turner is shooting under 40% for the season, and has been a pretty big disappointment overall. ET was supposed to come in, learn on the job, be an answer to the team’s search for consistent scoring, and maybe get into the discussion for ROTY. Turner is nowhere near the discussion for ROTY. Obviously Blake Griffin is the ROTY, and John Wall is the distant runner-up, but I can’t imagine that ET would register a single top ten vote for ROTY if the ballots were cast today.

D: Spencer Hawes. Talk about a disappointment. Anytime you trade away a chronic disappointment like Sam Dalembert and feel like you got ripped off, you know something is wrong. Hawes is averaging a pathetic 6.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Hawes had a nice run where he looked to be over his preseason health woes and seemed to be settling into a groove, but that streak ended fairly quickly, and at this point I’m convinced Spencer is about to get bounced from the starting lineup. Hawes doesn’t score, is only okay at getting rebounds, doesn’t defend all that well, and he can’t shoot free throws. He has a decent mid-range game for a big man, but that isn’t what this team needs.

F: Jason Kapono. From opening day starter, to 13 minutes played in the last 2 months combined despite perfect health. I think that’s what the kids would call an EPIC FAIL.

F: Darius Songaila. Hasn’t done anything, I hoped for something. Also, could have at least gotten into the game when Collins rolled out a lineup featuring Nocioni, Kapono, and Hawes. I guess four honkies just wasn’t meant to be.

N/A: Craig Brackins: This rookie project, who hangs around between Philly and the D-league is going to get a pass this time around. I haven't gotten a fair chance to grade the youngster who hopefully can contribute in the future.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sixers-Bobcats Thoughts and Observations

I watched this one in person and it was my 7-year old's first live game, so I didn't take live notes. Here's a few thoughts and observations from a slightly different perspective than usual.

*Elton Brand is the baseline for this team. Elton plugs away every night and does his thing, keeping the team together and in games. It is up to someone else, however, to make the plays that are going to win the game. Tonight that guy was Lou Williams, in fact, on most nights if the Sixers win they get a big game from either Lou or Jrue Holiday.

*Elton had 2 blocks in his last nine games, on Monday he had 5.

*Going back for a second, in 17 Sixers wins Jrue has averaged 16.1 points on 50% shooting and Lou averages 15.2 points on 42% shooting. In our 23 losses (Lou missed one of them) Jrue averages 13.5 points on 40% shooting and Lou averages 11 on 36%.

*What is up with Spencer Hawes? His minutes game-by-game this month: 25, 5, 18, 27, 18, 11. Sporadic to say the least.

*You know what isn’t sporadic? Hawes’ offense, he hasn’t scored in double digits in any of those games.

*It appears to me that Spencer isn't happy with his minutes, Spencer turned the ball over early in the second half, and Mo Speights immediately hopped up and went to the scorers table to replace him. As soon as Speights got up, Hawes fouled his man (on purpose? To hasten his exit?) while he was nowhere near the basket and stormed off to the bench, he did not return.

*Marreese Speights has scored in double digits in 4 of 7 since New Years. The other 3 games weren’t exactly poor showings: vs. Washington he scored 8 points in 16 minutes, against Milwaukee he has 7 points in 9 minutes, and against Chicago Mo only played 5 minutes and scored 2.

*Mo’s per 36 numbers this month are staggering, he is averaging over 20 points and 12 boards per 36 minutes played. Perhaps some real minutes are in order. Oh, and he’s shooting 62% this month.

*I think I may have buried the lead, how about Lou Williams with the big shot tonight!

*Lou has been crazy good lately, averaging 20 points per game since a tough effort against New Orleans on 1/3.

*Iguodala has been really good the past two games, playing great defense and scoring when needed. Iggy also has hit some clutch shots recently including a huge jumper to put the Sixers ahead late in OT Monday.

*Elbow controversy aside I like Iguodala, but I can’t say my opinion is echoed very often among the locals. I was excited to hear basketball talk on 610 this morning, but it was mostly people trashing Iggy. Anthony Gargano especially does not like Iguodala, saying he hears reports that he isn’t a good guy, and went so far as to mock Iguodala’s claim that he is the best defender in the league. Now, maybe Iggy isn’t the league’s best defender, but he is a great defender. The fact that he claims to be the best in the world shows that he takes pride in his defense, which is means it is his priority, and hopefully the team follows his lead.

*Speaking of elbows, Evan Turner must have caught three or four hard shots while playing off the ball defense Monday. Nothing was called, and since it wasn't on TV nobody probably noticed, but the kid played his ass off against big opponents and held his own.

*Speaking of Evan Turner, ET was often the one covering Boris Diaw late in the game. Diaw, a 6-8 power forward who was on fire Monday (Diaw finished the game with a triple-double), was effectively covered on several key possessions by Turner, a shooting guard. It really makes me excited to think what this team can do defensively with Turner and Iggy side by side. Of course somebody still would need to score, and defensive basketball isn’t always fun to watch. And our interior defense needs some work, did I say some work, our interior defense is essentially nonexistent.

*Speaking of still needing to score, ET got 33 minutes and scored 2 points aside from a couple of trips to the foul line late, when the Bobcats were forced to foul.

*Hey, at least ET made those foul shots, Lou Williams cost us the Detroit game with missed free throws, and Monday Thaddeus Young shot a ridiculous 1 for 6 from the stripe.

*It has been a couple of days since I mentioned this, but Orlando-Boston high-lights are on in the background right now so I feel like I should restate the following opinion: I can’t stand Paul Pierce.

*Next up is Orlando, so our lack of interior defense will be on display as somebody is going to have to stop Dwight Howard if the Sixers are going to win this game. The best defense may be a good offense, I would probably start Mo Speights and run the ball through him early hopefully getting some fouls on Howard. I feel confident that Jrue, ET, and Iggy can D-up Arenas, J-Rich, and Jameer Nelson, so if they can find a way to reduce Howard’s impact, through foul trouble or otherwise, then the Sixers should be able to compete.

Sixer Player Power Rankings

New idea, every Monday I’m going to post Power Rankings for the Sixers roster. It will take the whole season into account, but recent play will be the most important factor.

1. Elton Brand- The vet has been the most productive and consistent player on the team. Brand is healthy (finally, I should probably go knock on wood) this season and his play has been tremendous. Brand has already posted 14 double doubles this season, something he only did 17 times the two injury-plagued seasons previous. Brand is playing so well, he may actually be tradable if the team decides to go in that direction. Although, if the team is serious about making a playoff push, trading Brand will probably derail your playoff hopes.

2. Lou Williams- Before this season I did not have a very high opinion of Lou Williams, but his play has been great so far this year. Lou’s game is built around scoring the basketball, and his per 36 minute averages of 20.4 points and 5.4 assists are tremendous. Lou is the most aggressive Sixer on offense by far, and somehow leads the team in free throw attempts despite only playing 22.5 minutes per game. Lou gets to the line by both attacking the rim, and with his uncanny ability to draws contact while taking jumpers. If he could teach our other guards to draw contact like he does he would be the team’s MVP. A little of Lou’s swagger is exactly what Jrue and ET need to advance their games.

3. Jrue Holiday- The youngest player on the 76ers might be their best by years end. Jrue’s numbers continue to rise, in six January games he has averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 assists. The only regret is that his turnovers are going up as well. Jrue needs to do a better job of taking care of the basketball before he or the team can get to the next level. It also would be nice to see Jrue take a page from Lou Williams and get to the line more often. I do realize that I just wrote that Jrue needs to be more careful and more aggressive in back-to-back sentences, but if Jrue will ever become a star in this league then that is the case.

4. Thad Young- I guess it explains why this team struggles so much when two of the teams’ four best players are coming off the bench. That’s not Thaddeus Young’s fault. Thad has been great so far this season, and he ranks 9th overall in FG%. Thad has some nice per 36 numbers, racking up 16.4 points and 7 rebounds. Thad and Lou both probably have earned more minutes with their play. While Lou’s can come at Jodie Meeks’ expense, with Iggy’s return from the DL Thad may actually be looking at less minutes.

5. Andre Iguodala- Iggy has missed significant playing with injury for the first time in his career this season, in fact this is only the second time in seven seasons that Dre won’t play and start all 82 games. Andre’s time on the DL is the only reason that he isn’t at the top of the list. Iggy is an all-world defender, a versatile offensive player, and the team’s emotional leader. Andre doesn’t fit the classic mold of a team’s best player, because he isn’t a high volume scorer, but he is, in fact, the 76ers best player.

6. (Tie) Mo Speights and Spencer Hawes- Both guys are good offensive players and weak defenders. That separation is much more exaggerated with Mo, who is a very nice offensive player. Speights however commits too many fouls, and doesn’t play quality man or help defense. Hawes is more balanced, but isn’t exactly Bill Russell on the defensive end. Combined they form a league average center, their combined numbers per game: 33 mins, 12.4 pts, 9 rebs, 2 asts, .4 stls, 1.1 blks, 2 to’s, 4.5 fls, with 48.2% shooting.
Those number would put our center combo in the top 10 of all the offensive categories among centers, and in the bottom half of all centers in the defensive columns.

8. Evan Turner- I like ET, despite his offensive struggles he has continued to plug away, and now is a part of the defensive rotation late in games. ET needs to continue to grow his offensive game, and the best way to consistently score would be to, like Jrue, get to the line more often.

9. Jodie Meeks- Jodie’s ability to shoot from the outside gave him, pardon the pun, a shot at joining the starting lineup. Since then, Jodie has taken the chance and done a nice job with it. Jodie is in a tough spot since he is the team’s 4th best guard, and probably doesn’t fit into the team’s long term plans, unless they dump Lou for some reason and he assumes the role of third guard.

10. Andres Nocioni- My son’s favorite player rounds out our top 10. Nocioni plays hard, defends with vigor, and will occasionally knock down a few threes for you. He is not a star, but a nice piece off the bench, even if Doug Collins seems to play him a bit too much for my tastes.

No need to go any further, Happy Martin Luther King day everybody, I’ll be back Tuesday with Sixers-Bobcats.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

So that happened....

A couple of thoughts:

1. Oh, you don't know American Sign Language? Well Iggy just said, "Shut the fuck up rookie, don't make excuses when you turn the ball over."

2. Andre Iguodala is the leader of this team, without question.

3. How disliked is Evan Turner? How much whining does this guy do? There's no way Iggy hits him in the chest if this is a first or second offense. ET might be a perpetual whiner.

4. This makes me wonder about ET's personality. There were reports of him not getting along with teammates right away at Ohio State that gave you pause, but this makes me think he doesn't have many friends yet at the pro level either. ET may be the Larry David of pro basketballers; extremely talented, but struggles with interpersonal relationships and frequently pisses off the people he is supposed to work with. He shouldn't have said anything to Hawes should've just given him the eye...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

48 thoughts in 48 minutes: Sixers vs. Bucks

Here's the minute-by-minute, blow-by-blow review of the Sixers taking on the Bucks.

Pregame thoughts: I read that Iggy and Nocioni are both going to play tonight, and that they both are feeling better after a few extra practices. I sure hope so, cause Iggy looked tired at the end of the Indy game. Also, keep your eye on my Twitter buddy @Mospeights16, he’s had a little hot streak lately much like Hawes had earlier this season. Some consistency needs to come from the center position, combined I hope Hawes and Mo can combine nightly for about 18 points and 10 boards. I’d like to be able to consider at least one of these two among the future of the team.

1st Quarter:

12:00- Quick turnover by the Sixers as they fight amongst themselves for a rebound. You think Hawes might be a little fired up after just five minutes against Indiana?

11:00- A couple of second possessions early for the Bucks, the Sixers can’t let that happen. Second chance points was a huge part of Indy’s win Tuesday.

10:00- Btw, Eric Snow is back with us tonight, the manhunt can be called off. Still it would be wise for everyone to remember, “Don’t F*** with Zumoff!” (Oz reruns have recently restarted on HBO at 11pm, that show ruled! )

9:00- Spencer seems to have lost the beard, maybe the bearded guy who only got 5 minutes against Indy was his evil twin. Good job by coach to recognize that early and keep him from sabotaging the team.

8:00- Jodie with a few misses early, Jrue hit’s a long jumper for 2. UP 6-5 early.

7:00- Iggy just missed stealing a pass, but still disrupts the play. On the other end Iggy draws the foul driving to the basket. I’ll give him this, Iggy definitely puts pressure on the other team.

6:00- Hawes with a left-hand floater, assisted by Iggy. Sweet little play there.

5:00- Bogut and 1. Bucks with 3 offensive rebounds already, and a bunch of second chance points.

4:00- Iggy sits for ET. Brand jumper makes it 15-14. This game is a very slow paced affair for the Sixers.

3:00- ET scores early with a jumper from a step behind the foul line. Good sign.

2:00- Nocioni and Lou enter now, Thad too. Brand, the last starter left, goes right at Gooden for another bucket. Brand is 4 for 4, with 8 points so far.

1:00- ET sits down after drawing a second foul. Ugly game so far. The Bucks are described as a defensive team, and their best offensive player is out, so I will blame this pace and style of play on them.

End of 1st- Lou has 5 points early and is getting to the rim w/ ease against a supposedly good defensive team. Iggy drills a 3 pointer with .7 left on clock to go into the 2nd up 28-23. I almost started to freak out, since the final play had Lou dribbling way behind the 3 point line, but he found an open Iggy for a good look and all is well. I assume Iggy takes back his closer status from Lou now that he is back at work.

2nd Quarter:

12:00- @Mospeights16 is in for Brand, who led the team with 9 first quarter points. Lou drills a 3 and is absolutely on fire early.

11:00- Mo hit’s a jumper and the Sixers are up 8!

10:00- Now Speights adds a rebound, and then gets an assist on an Iguodala dunk. Mo stuffing the stat sheet tonight!!

9:00- Mo draws the foul, hit a pair of FTs, then catches a Lou Williams lob for 2 more. 6 points in 3 minutes for Mo.

8:00- Lou makes it 10 points in 6 minutes, plus he has two beautiful assists. Lou and Mo are scorching hot and 76ers are up 14.

7:00- Speights gets back to the line, Jrue re-enters the game for the smoking hot Lou Williams. I love Jrue, but I wouldn’t mess with Lou when he’s playing like this.

6:00- Jrue’s reinsertion to the lineup looks even more questionable after Boykins hit’s a jumper in his face, then Jrue with a turnover leading to an easy lay-up in transition.

5:00- Mo saves an airball that was headed out of bounds, and gets it to Thad for the easy inside bucket. Line-up change: ET and Lou are back, and Speights sits after six and a half minutes where he put up 7 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists. Great early run for Mo.

4:00- ET drives to the bucket and gets to the line, I still want to see 10 FTAs per game from ET, that’s how elite scorers get their points, even when their jumper is off.

3:00- Back-to-back turnovers by the Sixers let the Bucks cut the lead to 10.

2:00- Bucks on a 10-2 run, the lead is only 7 now. ET with an ugly turnover there, and Doug calls timeout. I’m going to guess that Evan is about to hit the pine (folding chairs, whatever).

*Special note: After commercial CSN shows Jrue and Brandon Jennings playing in the McDonald’s All-American game back in high school. Jennings is rocking a BAD-ASS high-top fade, and is now one of my favorite young players in the league. Although, I still won’t watch this slow, plodding Bucks squad.

1:00- ET is, in fact, out. Breakdowns galore this minute: 1. Jrue bricks a long jumper. 2. Thad with an offensive foul. 3. Thad fouls Ilyasova as he SHOOTS A THREE POINTER! Stupid plays all around. Milwaukee is now down just 4.

End of 2nd quarter- Lou gets to the line after drawing a foul on The Ice Truck Killer from season 1 of Dexter (Ilyasova). Final possession time, Lou is dribbling, and…. WTF!? Really? Did that just happen? Lou bricks an ugly long jumper. This team is great out of timeouts, so why don’t they have a play saved for these spots? Let copy and paste from Tuesday’s game…

End of 1st- The last possession of the first quarter once again featured Lou dribbling beyond the arc before forcing a long 2, WHY????? I feel like we’ve covered this before….Oh yeah, it was all the way back on 1/8...

“The next generation of Thad, Jrue, and ET rarely have their number called by Doug Collins in big spots. The end of every quarter either has Lou dribbling beyond the arc before settling on a long jumper…..”

This end of quarter stuff has to stop, we are giving away at least 2 possessions a game with this nonsense.

Half- Well, they were up 15, now its 6. Great work from Elton, Mo, and especially Lou Williams (end of the 2nd quarter aside). ET and Thad were both plagued by turnovers and fouls in the first half, the team has to hope to get something from them later on. Assistant coach Brian James is the Sixers’ Ricky Bobby, they both have two first names, and neither one knows where to look during an interview. His head just rotates between looking at camera, looking at cameraman, and looking at Meredith.

3rd Quarter:

12:00- Starters are all back to start the half.

11:00- Three by Iggy is matched by an and 1 on the other end. Not much defense early.

10:00- A pair of assists by Iguodala gets the lead back up to 9. This guy is so versatile, he is a great defender, good passer, good scorer, and a good rebounder. With Iggy missing so much time and the team needing, in my opinion, to go younger, it was easy to forget how much this guy brings to the table. I think maybe I underrate/under appreciate Iggy.

9:00- Iggy hit’s a tough turn around jumper to slow the building Bucks momentum.

8:00- Meeks passes up a three-pointer in order to drive to the bucket, gets rejected by Bogut and then can’t save the ball. Bucks take over down 7.

7:00- Iggy gets another assist when he sets up Jrue for a wide open three. Iggy has been amazing.

6:00- Can we give Meeks his own 15-foot rule? No shots inside of 15 feet, because he just got rejected again. Never mind, Meeks just got blocked shooting a three-pointer. Tough night for Jodie, can’t we get some ET out there instead?

5:00- Meeks still on the floor after the commercial, so Doug is showing him some patience. Hawes and ET are wondering where is Collins’ patience when they are struggling.

4:00- Lou back to the line, he’s been fantastic this season at getting to the line, by far the best on the team.

3:00- More from Lou, who has 17 now. Jrue then with a Lou-like jumper to make the lead 11. How great would it be if Jrue started to show the aggressiveness Lou shows nightly.

2:00- Brand draws back-to-back fouls in the low post, then buries a baseline jumper.

1:00- Why is it that guys always seem to make shots with Nocioni draped all over them. I mean, it looks like good defense, it just never stops anyone.

End of 3rd quarter- SERENITY NOW!!!! Would anyone like to guess how the quarter ended? Lou must have been 32 feet from the basket! Is he doing this just to piss me off? I know that doesn’t seem likely, but give me a better reason why a guy would jack up a 35 foot jumper at the end of the quarter when there was time to run a play.

4th Quarter:

12:00- Gooden jumper on opening possession makes it an 8-0 Bucks run, the Sixers lead is down to 3.

11:00- Wow! Lou blocked trying to dunk, but he hits the put-back before he landed!

10:00- ET and Mo are back in, we need somebody to bring a momentum boost.

9:00- Mo with a block of a Boykins lay-up that would have given Milwaukee the lead. Still, I can’t believe they are only up one point, the Sixers aren’t going to win this game. This reeks of every game this year when they fell apart at the end of a close contest.

8:00- A John Salmons 3 gives the Bucks the god damned lead. Thad quickly ties it back up, it is 83-83.

7:00- Nine offensive rebounds now for Milwaukee, NINE! Hawes back in for Speights.

6:00- Hey now! Hawes with the bucket on Iggy’s 7th assist of the game. Then Hawes takes the offensive foul from the Ice Truck Killer.

5:00- Well, we are tied up with five minutes to play. I have very little confidence, they just seem to consistently panic and come up short in these close games.

4:00- Lou back to the line, about to take his 11th free throw. Lou is our best scorer tonight by far.

3:00- Damn, they just missed a couple chances to tie. Under three minutes now, Sixers down 2.

2:00- Hawes ties it up! 92-92 with 2:28 to play. Ugh, Bucks regain the lead.

1:00- Iggy hacked with no call. Another offensive rebound by Milwaukee, WTF? These boards by the Bucks are unacceptable. WOW! Sixers lock the Bucks down and force a shot clock violation following the offensive rebound. Great job all around!

End of 4th quarter- Lou for 3! 25 tonight for Lou, he has been absolutely brilliant for the first 11:45 of every quarter tonight. Sixers up 1. ET out there in the final minute, he’s earned it. ET D’s up Salmons, Sixers ball still up 1. Sixers come out of timeout with Jrue, Brand, Lou, Iggy, and Meeks (I guess ET and Meeks will flip-flop possessions for offensive/defensive purposes.) Uh-no! The clock is ticking and Lou is dribbling five feet behind the line. Nooo!!!! Please stop it!!! Damn, Lou drives and tries to get contact on a pull-up jumper (which I really like) but turns the ball over. Bucks final chance…and Iggy squashes that possession with unreal D on Maggette, getting a clean block on a Maggette, who is a master of drawing fouls in these spots. Maggette flings ball to Boykins who gets a quick look, but misses, game over! Sixers win!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The hierarchy of Philly sports is as follows:

1. The Phillies
2. The Eagles
3. The Flyers
4. Union (Just kidding)
5. The Sixers

Its too bad for the Sixers, but its true and well-deserved. Each of the other Philly teams went to the playoffs this year with a decent chance of a title. That opportunity doesn’t exist for the Sixers, at least not this year or next. Even though these rankings might not change very soon, the Sixers shouldn’t give up yet because ten years ago the rankings looked like this:

1. The Eagles
2. The Sixers
3. The Flyers
4. The Kixx (Same joke, different soccer team)
5. The Phillies

The Phillies, kings of the city today, were a miserable franchise back in 2001. The team hadn’t played a meaningful game in years. The roster was UGLY, the fans were apathetic, and the franchise seemed to be going nowhere. Over the next couple of years the Phillies started to come together, they added some pieces that worked: Howard, Werth, Hamels, Chooch, and some that didn’t: Milwood, Eaton, Bell etc.

In the end the Phillies turned the franchise around, brought the fans back, and conquered the city. The Phillies then used the revenue generated by that excited fan base to establish themselves as a fixture in the elite of MLB. So not all hope is lost Sixers fans, but keep in mind that this turn-around didn’t happen overnight.

So with an off day today, let’s go back to the pre-dynasty Phillies and see what parallels can be drawn to our current Sixers team.

Doug Collins=Larry Bowa

The hard-nosed coach comes back to manage the team he started his playing career with. Doug Collins, like Bowa, is very well-liked among folks who remember him as a player. The hiring of both men was very well received by the fans at the time. Like Bowa, Doug made several all-star teams despite not being among the more physically gifted athletes in the league, both used smarts, hustle, and desire to get to the most out of their abilities as a player. That quality, in theory, should make both men into great coaches. If they could get their players to maximize their talents the way Bowa and Collins both did when they were pros, then any team they coach should be become greater than the sum of its parts. Unfortunately, Bowa didn’t always connect with young players, often confusing a lack of talent or instincts with a lack of desire or effort, and over time it became apparent that Bowa couldn’t coexist with his players. They resented him, and his belief that they just didn’t work hard enough. Doug Collins faces a similar road, he has a roster that needs to learn how to win, and one that has to be held accountable for mistakes both physical and mental. Can Doug avoid Larry’s mistakes and keep both the players’ attention and their respect, or will we have to bring in a ‘nice guy’ in two years to repair Doug’s damage.

Andres Nocioni=Aaron Rowand

Just a quicky here, both guys are gritty, the play hurt, they play physical D, and hustle every play. The crowd appreciates both, but neither is anything more than a role player. I like both guys though, so thought I’d include them.

Elton Brand=Jim Thome

Elton Brand was the big money free agent the Sixers signed amidst a huge media buzz to turn their franchise around and be the superstar the team was lacking since Iverson‘s decline. Jim Thome played the same role for the Phillies, as his signing was also supposed to usher in a new era of winning. When Elton left LA, much like Thome in Cleveland, he left behind a very disappointed fan base that was upset at losing the face of their franchise. Although in both instances the signings failed to live up to expectations. Thome was very good in his Philly years before injuries slowed him and a young kid named Ryan Howard made him obsolete. Brand, on the other hand, started his time slowed by injuries, playing just 105 of a possible 164 over his first two seasons in Philly. Although Brand has played very well this season, it appears that like Thome, Brand will have moved on before the team actually makes the deep playoff run he was signed to lead.

Thaddeus Young=Jimmy Rollins

Back in 2004, Jimmy Rollins took the next step as a player, already a touted prospect and gifted athlete, that was the year Jimmy finally cut out all the strikeouts that plagued his first few seasons. After Rollins learned to play the game smarter and stop making the same mistakes (swinging at the high fastball, Jesus he used to drive me crazy) Rollins became one of the game’s elite players at his position. Just a few years later Jimmy was NL MVP and his team had won the division, the next season he led them to a title. This is all a lot for Thad Young to live up to, but Thaddeus is a dynamic young player with as much physical talent as just about anyone in the league, but poor decisions, especially in his shot selection, are holding him back from being an elite player. Thaddeus needs to mature the way Jimmy did, play smarter, and begin to be a leader on this team. Thaddeus, like Jimmy, will be the one guy who will be a contributor throughout the entire rebuilding process. Hopefully, like Jimmy, Thaddeus will become an All-Star who learned to avoid the mistakes that stifled his game early on.

Andre Iguodala=Bobby Abreu

A great player that can’t be one of the two best guys on a championship team. A player that has the stink of 10 years worth of their franchise’s failure on them. Bobby and Iggy both made/make money on par with MVPs and superstars. In the fans eyes, they are both players whose caliber of play is a level below their pay grade. In the end, Iggy and Abreu both may be guys who were traded for fifty cents on the dollar in order to clear them out and bring in the next generation. I like Iggy, but can’t imagine other leaders emerging while he remains on the roster and in the locker room, so like Abreu he should go, and let the knew generation of leaders take over.

Jrue Holiday=Chase Utley

The 1st round selection from UCLA, that was the first of the ‘new guys’ to make it into the starting lineup. Jrue has to be one of those leaders I was referring to if Iggy were to go. Hell, even if Iggy stays Jrue has to be a leader. Jrue has the talent to stand out among his peers much as Utley has established himself among the game’s elite middle infielders. The early version of Jrue has some rough spots to work on, as did Utley (not always a great defender), and hopefully Jrue can stay healthier than Utley has. Jrue also needs to live up to his potential, which is something Utley never fully has. Injuries play a major part, but Utley is a bit overrated in my eyes. Utley sure gets a ton of MVP votes every April, and not very many in October, why is that? (Chase I love you, and I’m really criticizing the perceptions of you, not your actual performance) Anyway, for the Sixers to become a perennial contender, Jrue need to be every bit the leader, defender, and offensive producer that Chase Utley is for the Phillies.

Evan Turner=????

It is still way too early to know, but this one could go one of two ways:

ET=Pat Burrell
A top draft choice that was touted as the next big thing, but never lived up to it. A guy that struggled mightily at times and never lived up to his draft status. The thing about Burrell is once he started to struggle, his relationship with Bowa crumbled, and since I already noted how Bowa and Collins are quite similar, I am afraid of Doug souring on ET. Like Burrell, I don’t think ET could ever be a total flop, but instead of being THE guy, like he was drafted to be, ET may end up as just A guy, which would be a great disappointment. Let’s not forget that Burrell was a main contributor on the championship team, so bust or not, Burrell helped us win a title and because of that he is well liked among the fans here. Also, like Abreu the fans considered Burrell to be outrageously overpaid, so that should spare ET some of the ire Burrell drew, at least for now.

The other option for Turner:

Evan Turner=Ryan Howard

Evan Turner has been among the very best at every level he has played at. He has in him the talent and instincts to be among the game’s very best, we think. Like Howard, Turner is a little old for an elite prospect, debuting in the NBA after 3 years in college. Also like Howard, Turner has his at-bats (so to speak) blocked by older, higher paid vets, specifically by Iguodala, much like Howard was blocked by Thome. ET has shined at times when Iggy is out, although not on the level Howard did during Thome’s stints on the DL. By proving himself during the usually durable Iguodala’s absence, the rookie has shown he deserves (in my mind) the chance to start in this league and see if he can live up to his potential. Like Thome and Howard, it is tough for the Sixers to play both guys together, without a partner on the wing that stretches the defense with outside shooting, neither ET or Iggy is as effective offensively.

Right now, whichever way ET goes, so goes the franchise. If he becomes an elite power hitter (a fairly efficient high volume scorer) then the team has the punch it needs to compete. If ET ends up being a good guy that never quite made it, then the team still has pieces to find before we can move forward. I just wanted to remind everybody that there is always reason for optimism, even when your team is as bad as the Sixers are, or the Phillies were.