We’re back after a little Turkey Day hiatus and obviously a lot happened on and off-the-court (more on that later) in 76ers land over the long weekend.
The 76ers losing streak stretched to six games after last night’s tough loss in San Antonio. They’re now 2-7 on the road this season and 5-12 overall which is the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference. But to be honest, it’s hard to criticize this squad of walking wounded that are wearing the Sixers uniforms right now.
They gave us an unbelievable effort against the mighty Boston Celtics last Wednesday. Then the depleted Sixers gave us a more then respectable effort vs. the red hot Atlanta Hawks on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Finally, last night Philadunkia’s home team traveled to San Antonio and gave the now healthy and surging Spurs all they could handle. Still all three games ended in losses and as coach Jordan has said, “There are no moral victories.”, so a great effort won’t be sufficient for us either. However one thing has become obvious during the last three games, especially in Sunday night’s loss vs. the Spurs. This injury riddled 76ers squad simply doesn’t have enough firepower to compete and win on a nightly basis in the NBA.
The Sixers only dressed 10 players and with the absence of Elton Brand, Louis Williams and Mo Speights they were missing over 40 ppg. from their starting lineup, but again to their credit the 76ers kept this game close and interesting deep into the 4thquarter. In our opinion the Sixers actually had a chance to steal this contest until one sequence completely crushed their hopes of pulling off a huge upset down in San Antonio.
For us that sequence began at about the 2:20 mark of the 4th Quarter. After Manu Ginobili missed what looked to be a gimme’ 6-footer, Iguodala grabbed the board and down the other end, Rodney Carney scored on a lay-up, cutting the Spurs lead to 93-87. One the Spurs following possession, AI9 made a tremendous steal (1 of 4 he had on the night) and led the Sixers break out. As he pushed the ball down the floor, we were on the edge of our seat with thoughts of slashing the lead to 4 or maybe even 3 points. However, the Spurs got numbers back and Iguodala realized this so he slowed up as he got to about the FT line and was looking for a secondary break option. Iggy then passed the rock back to the top of the three point line to Willie Green and unfortunately this is where the game went down the tubes.
Green, who is shooting 3’s at a 22% clip this season and who had already was 0-2 on 3PA last night, decided to hoist an ill-advised, 25-foot, three-point attempt. We actually jumped off the couch as Green rose up and yelled, “Nooooooo”! CLANK. The Spurs grabbed the rebound and on their next possession, Tim Duncan made a beautiful feed to Ginobili that led to a sweet lay-in by Manu at the 1:40 mark. The bucket extended the SA lead to 8 points and the game was over that quickly.
Just a couple quick points on Green’s shot which we admit he probably would not have been in a position to take if Louis Williams was healthy. Still a veteran guard like Green has to be aware that a 25-footer in that situation is not the look the Sixers needed. A two point bucket was all that was necessary on that trip down the floor. That goes back to the old coaching cliché about knowing “time and score” during a game and letting that dictate what are the best decisions and shots on the offensive end. Also, despite his 17 points on the night, Green was not exactly “hot” from outside — 6-16 and 0-2 from 3-point land – when he pulled the trigger on that final deep, 3PA. A role player like Green needs to realize when he is having an “off” night and look to find another option in that situation. Lastly, Green has to see that with the game essentially on the line, the ball does not belong in his hands. He should have backed it out and looked to get Iggy the rock or set him up for a shot.
- The Spurs bench scored 45 points on the night thanks to big efforts from DeJuan Blair (11 & 10), Michael Finley (11 points) and Matt Bonner (16 & 5). If last night was the first time you have seen Blair play this year, then you’ve really been missing out on one of the better rookie performances so far this season. The 6-foot-7, 270-pound kid is an absolute beast on the boards, he brings great energy to the floor and as his 2nd Quarter swat of Royal Ivey’ shot — which landed in the second row — demonstrated, he has a tremendous wingspan that he uses very well to defend the tin.
- Although Sammy D’s numbers 14 & 14, were great, we don’t think his stat line does an accurate job of telling just how well Dalembert played last night. In addition to his scoring and board work, Sammy did a respectable job of defending Tim Duncan, he played within his game, dropped a couple of nice dimes and brought real energy to the Sixers lineup. Those intangibles are what the Sixers need from him every night if this season is going to get turned around.
- The Sixers had 15 fast break point in the 1st half and 25 overall. A lot of those points came off of the Spurs 18 turnovers.
- SA only had one offensive rebound in the 2nd half. After recent efforts on the boards by the Sixers, we had to a do a double-take on the stat sheet to believe that line.
- Jrue Holiday’s tick simply disappeared in the 2nd half. Holiday only played 18 mins. total and roughly 3:42 in the second half. Speaking of Holiday, how about his baptism by fire as the starting PG for the Sixers? WOW. First he matched up with the C’s Rojon Rondo, followed by a run against Mike Bibby of the Hawks and then last night all-world point man Tony Parker was his match-up. To his credit Holiday has done a respectable job against this elite competition.
- The Sixers continue to have issues defending the 3PA. The Spurs were 1o-18 from 3-land, which is even more telling of their defensive issues because the Sixers have been running with a smaller, quicker lineup more frequently since the injury to Brand.
- Just how deep are the Spurs? Three of their starters Richard Jefferson (7 points), Antonio McDyess (0 points) and Keith Bogans (3 points) basically took the night off and they still got the W. Again that was mostly thanks to 45 bench points.
- Thaddeus Young appears to be back again and in full effect. Thad was 7-11 shooting the rock for 16 points vs. SA and that is coming off his 22 point game (9-13) vs. Atlanta. Thad has now hit for 16 or more points in five straight games and is shooting 56.7% from the field in that stretch.
- Finally, Andre Iguodala is quietly having a tremendous run right now. Last night he just missed a triple double — 21 points, 8 rebounds, 7 dimes, 5 steals and 3 blocks. We’d like to see him drive to the tin more and take less J’s as his shot seems to be a little off, but that’s being very critical because AI9 has been a rock during the last three games.