Our bewilderment is not all about last night’s W either. Don’t get us wrong the win was awesome because it was much needed and came against a solid team like the NOH, but for us our headline question is more about how the Sixers got the victory. You see for the second straight game (both Ws) Eddie Jordan did a complete 180 on his offensive minded coaching style and made moves that contradict everything he has said and done during the 2009-10 season. Now we want to know is this new direction for the Sixers for real and here to stay?
Again as we theorized yesterday, these sudden, drastic and more defensive oriented lineup changes must be marching orders coming from above, because they go against everything we have seen from Jordan all season and everything he believes in from a hoops standpoint. Well whoever is calling the shots should keep it up because it is working as the Sixers are 2-0 under the new puppet master.
Here’s a quick look at the two huge changes we have noticed since Stefanski went public with his thoughts on the Sixers horrific play, specifically on defense.
- Excellent on-ball defender Jrue Holiday played every tick of the 4th for the second straight game. Allegedly Louis was a little dinged last night after a hard foul earlier in the game, so he was unavailable for the 4th Q. Still if we hold to our “directives from the front office” theory, we have to believe that even if Louis was ready to go, Jrue still would have been in there at the end. In the two games since Stefanski addressed the media, Holiday has hauled an average of 24.5 minutes which is significantly more tick then he was getting via Jordan’s discretion since Louis returned from his broken jaw .
- A more defensive focused lineup featuring at least three of the following players — Brand, Dalembert, Iguodala and Holiday — has seen significantly more playing time over the last two games. Last night some form of this unit was out on the floor for 28+ minutes of the game. Again by our count ALL four of these Sixers played together last night for just over 15 minutes. It would have been more had Sammy not experienced foul trouble throughout and had Brand not been in foul trouble during the second half before fouling out with :42 remaining.
We can only hope that this new attention to defense is here to stay and will continue as we progress through the rest of the 2009-10 season. A strong test for the Sixers dedication to this new found philosophy will come Wednesday when the run-n-gun Knicks come to town.
- Sammy D has played like a man possessed recently. His twelve 1st Q rebounds were one the most dominating performances we can remember out of Sammy. If he can cut down on the stupid fouls he takes and stay out on the court he will help improve the Sixers defense greatly.
- Was it us or did Louis Williams even play some defense last night? We fully expected Louis and his ole’ defense to just get flat-out embarrassed by Chris Paul last night. However we have to admit that Louis did a decent job on Paul. Is it possible that Louis, one of the weakest defenders on the Sixers, has gotten the message regarding the team’s new focus on that end of the floor? We can only hope.
- The Sixers more defensive mind set led to 23 fast break points last night.
- Despite Sammy’s fierce presence on the boards last night, the Sixers got out rebounded 51-43. Sixers point man Jru Holiday was second on the team with 6 boards. Brand (4), Thad (5) and AI9 (5) as well as the rest of the team need to do a better job of helping on the glass.
- Where is Mo? Mo Speights is either hurting or has been a casualty of the Sixers new defensive focus because he has gotten no tick over the last two games. Speights logged only five minutes last night and six vs. Detroit on Sunday. He hasn’t run more then 11 minutes in any of the last five games.
- Despite Jordan’s new found attention to defense, one of the big mistakes he made last night was having Allen Iverson in the game down the stretch. Iverson is defensively challenged to begin with and last night he was visibly limping from the pain in his arthritic knee. We love that Iverson was his usual warrior self and wanted to be out on the floor, but vs. the Hornets last night he was a huge defensive liability in a very tight game and Jordan should have put AI on the bench.
- Late in the 4th Q, Jordan also should have considered going to Jason Smith, in place of Brand on the defensive end of the floor, to keep Brand from fouling out of the game.
- The Sixers like to make life tough for themselves. As is their habit, they blow big leads in almost every game. Last night they blew a 15-point 1st Q lead and a 10-point 4th Q lead to unnecessarily produce an edge-of-your-seat finish.