We stated in our “Fo’ with the Foes” preview of last night’s game against Indiana that even if the 76ers were to defeat the Pacers and thus grab their first 3-game winning streak of the season, we still were not going to believe that this team had changed and was finally set to turn this season around. So the fact that the Sixers lost Monday night to an absolutely terrible Pacers team and did so in ways that have plagued them all year, only further proved that we were correct in raising the white flag on the 2009-10 season last week.
The 76ers blew an 11-point second quarter lead and suffered just an inexcusable loss (Their second in the last four games by the way.) thanks to the usual suspects – horrific defense, questionable coaching decisions and poor shot selection / shooting.
The 76ers gave up 48 points in the paint, allowed Indiana to shoot 51.8% from the field and 36.4% from 3-point land, got beat on the glass (41-38), let six Pacers score in double figures and had only four steals. In short, Philadunkia’s home team played no semblance of defense last night as they have done numerous times throughout the year.
We’re not sure anyone put a hand in Danny Granger’s or Brandon Rush’s mug all night. The Sixers ole’ perimeter defense made Luther Head look like an All-Star and we won’t even mention the abuse that Louis took down low from Dahntay Jones during the 4th quarter. We can understand losing a game by either getting beat on the perimeter or in the paint, but the Sixers got worked on both fronts last night and that’s beyond belief. Unless of course you have been following the Sixers all season.
From the opening tip the Pacers Jim O’Brien coached circles around Eddie Jordan. The Pacers went with a small starting lineup of Earl Watson, Luther Head, Troy Murphy, Brandon Rush and Danny Granger tonight and they got this mismatch they were looking for as Elton Brand was forced to guard the quicker, more athletic Granger on the perimeter. Eddie Jordan made no adjustment during the 1st quarter to the Pacers surprising first-five and the result, unlike Saturday night, was that Granger got going early and basically was unstoppable in the first half.
Jrue Holiday had 7 points and 2 dimes in 10 minutes of play during the first quarter. The Sixers rookie saw 6 more minutes of burn the whole night. Why?? What’s even more mind boggling is that Holiday (6-4; 190 pounds) could not get off the bench during the 4thQ when the Pacers 6-6, 210 pound Dahntay Jones took the 6-1, 175-pound Louis Williams to the weight room, scoring 11 of his 18 points in clutch time.
Further questionable coaching decisions included:
1) Not having Holiday and Dalembert on the court during the 4th Q when the Sixers trailed by as many as 11-points and absolutely needed stops.
2) Dalembert only playing 21 ticks even though he was not in foul trouble. No Sixer has been hotter then Dalembert in January (5 double-doubles this month) and it’s a joke that he got buried on the bench last night.
3) During the 1st half, when the Sixersput the ball into the low post, the Pacers sent at least one, sometimes two guards to dig at / double Brand. To make the Pacers pay for their frequent doubling down on Brand, Jordan should have inserted Jason Kapono into the game. Kapono would have given Brand a 3-point threat to pitch the rock back out to on the perimeter when the double team arrived. One or two threes from Kapono would have brought an end to the Pacers gambling defense that was crushing EB.
4) Allowing the gimpy Iverson to attempt to defend the much younger, much quicker Pacer guards — Earl Watson & Luther Head — during most of the 4th Q.
The 76ers did a great job in the 1st Q and throughout most of the first half of getting the ball into the paint against the Pacers. Whether it was dribble-drive penetration or tossing the ball in to Brand on the blocks, the Sixers made a consistent effort to pound the ball inside on Indiana. Why not?! It worked very well in the victory on Saturday and it worked again last night – when the Sixers stayed committed to it. They were committed to this philosophy in the first half and as a result they had great offensive flow, shot 62% from the field and built an 11-point lead.
But it didn’t last. In the second half, specifically in the 3rd quarter, the Sixers questionable shot selection and inability to hit those ill-advised outside shots delivered this W to the Pacers. After shooting 24-for-39 in the first half (62 percent), the Sixers converted just 5-for-24 in the third quarter (21 %) and the bulk of the shot attempts were longs 2’s or 3-point shots. The guiltiest member of the Sixers was Andre Iguodala. We’ve talked before about how this season AI9 has completely fallen in love with his jumper and how we do not understand it. Well, after successfully taking the ball to the cup numerous times in the 1st half, Dre’s love affair with the 3-ball resurfaced in the 3rd Q. By our count he was 2-9 in the Q and all his shot attempts were jumpers. Even more telling about how many jumpers the Sixers hoisted up in the 3rd Q was the fact that EB got one shot in the quarter. To say that the team deviated from the game-plan of working the Pacers on the inside is an understatement.
The 4th quarter wasn’t much better. The Sixers started the 4th with a 0-4 streak from the field plus a 24-second shot clock violation. Overall they were held scoreless for a minute span to begin the 4th and shot 7-for-19 in the fourth quarter. They did make a 9-0 run in the 4th, that got them within one of the Pacers at 91-90, but the Pacers answered with their own 5-2 run to push the lead back to 97-92. The Sixers made one last push and got within 99-97 with 2 minutes remaining, but an AND 1 by Jones on the blocks against the overmatched Louis Williams squashed the final hopes of a Sixers third straight win.