One thing was made clear to me in the 76ers ugly loss Wednesday evening in Toronto: The 76ers may be able to assemble a victory or two with Andre Iguodala but it’s going to be nearly impossible without Elton Brand. Right from the outset the Raptors picked the correct theme to sting the 7-6. Toronto knew our Sixers were tired from Wednesday night’s heartbreaking overtime loss; both physically and mentally. The Raptors knew we had no post presence to slow the game down and their up-tempo start propelled them to a commanding 33-18 first quarter lead. The Raps would go on to win 106-90 an the Sixers, well on the eve before Thanksgiving, they played like a bunch of turkeys.
Former Sixer Reggie Evans picked a favorable night accumulate a career-high 22 rebounds, including 15 in the first half. Evans was a one man wrecking crew who just simply wouldn’t be denied grabbing the ball. Last night he read the basketball cowing off the rim nearly flawlessly. Evans even was able to corral a season-high 12 points against the sorry 76er frontcourt. Boy could we use a player like him. The guy we traded for Evans (Jason Kapono) didn’t even touch the floor.
The Sixers just don’t have an energy player in their starting lineup to jump kick a sluggish start. Thaddeus Young normally plays that role off the bench but last night he was torched defensively by whoever he was guarding.
In the Washington locker room, several players identified team defense as the Sixers biggest weakness and those who watch this team must agree. The lack of communication and hard work is evident when the 76ers don’t have the basketball and last night’s game was a perfect example. Of the Raptors 38 made field goals, I counted 17 shots where the player was literally wide open. Toronto even drilled a season high nine three-pointers. The Raptors scored a blistering 62 points just in the first half and were able to put the game on cruise control in the second half.
It’s really time for someone in the Sixers locker room to start taking extra care of Evan Turner. Emotionally this kid is a wreck. Turner has always succeeded in sports and right now by just looking him in the eye; you can tell how overwhelmed he is. He blew the Wizards game Tuesday and it’s even more magnified because of John Wall’s dazzling 17-point fourth quarter. ET didn’t even attempt a shot in Toronto and played just 16 minutes. In blowout type of games (which are going to plentiful for the remainder of the season) is where I think you learn so much about a players character and attitude. I’ve identified four separate games this season where it appeared ET would rather sit in the locker room.
The team needs to bring an outside source in—maybe Julius Erving—to have a sit down talk with Turner, to get his head screwed on straight. He has to do what all NFL cornerbacks are taught: forgot the bad performance ever happened and continue trucking. Turners best asset for the 76ers after 15 games has been his rebounding (5.9 per game). Some will identify his 9 point per game as a problem, but I’m looking more his lack of assists (1.8). ET was a brilliant passer for the Buckeyes. The trust factor with 76ers big men is something he’s going to have to accept and overcome if he wants himself and the team to improve.
In the Sixers last three losses backup point guard Lou Williams has been dreadful, and I mean that politely. Lou-Lou is a combined 3-for-26 from the floor and has gotten away from his three-point game. Teams who play the Sixers for a second time around have really keyed in on his strategy of getting the free throw line. His head fake isn’t working like it once was in early November. Lou is still averaging 12.5 point this season. But the recent lack of production from him is one explanation of why the 76ers continue to lose.
- This happened after the Wizards game but I felt like it was worth mentioning. Doug Collins was profusely sweating, 20 minutes after overtime and looked sick-as-a-dog. Collins was jolly as usual but he wasn’t elaborating nearly as much as he was in Orlando, where I last reported on him this summer. Collins health is something to keep an eye out for.
- Marreese Speights followed up his career night by pouring in nine points on 4-of-8 shooting. His fourth quarter performance in Washington was a huge reason why the Wizards weren’t able to just steal the victory in regulation. Over the next month I’m going to be watching how his defense develops with more regular playing time.
- Jrue Holiday shook off his worst performance of the season by scoring 16, dishing out six assists and grabbing seven rebounds, a season-high. Over the last week I haven’t seen Holiday take it to the bucket as much as he had been in earlier Sixers wins. Doug Collins should experiment more with him at the two-guard
- The Sixers have been one of the worst third quarter teams in the league. I think that reflects directly on the coaching staff. Whatever is being preached is the wrong message. But against the Raptors, Philly was able to post 28 points, their best since the 31 points they scored on November 5th against the Cavs.