In a new found NBA world of megastar driven super teams, the 76ers continue to show that their only combat will be the power of the collaboration. In their mosquito-sized exhibition season, the team concept prevailed, and produced two consecutive victories (just ignore the small prerequisite that they played the Washington Wizards).
While, the Sixers looked improved in key areas, there were still too much stagnation and regression in others.
Though, at the heart of the matter, the Sixers have given their fans a reason to anticipate, and just maybe a reason to hope.
After the jump, is an analysis of what we learned from the abbreviated 2011-12 preseason:
Jrue Holiday is the leader of the Sixers.
He is not Chris Paul nor is he Deron Williams. But, he is the catalyst to the Doug Collins’ offensive attack. His decision making, slick penetration, and deadly precise shooting has turned him into the ultimate point guard. No, he won’t blow by anyone, and he won’t make SportsCenter’s Top 10 very often but in the words of Larry Brown, he plays the game the “right way.” His play, late in Tuesday night’s game proved that he has the clutch, winning, genes that his teammates only dream of having. Holiday’s emergence will hopefully bring an end to the “clutch time” issues that have plagued teh 7-6 over the last two years.
Big men are on campus. Well…Maybe.
Spencer Hawes looked sharp offensively during his 2 exhibition showings. He continued to prove that he has the outside touch. Yet, what was impressive was that he was able to score down low and actually provided a presence in the paint, while Elton Brand proved to be his usual, consistent self. While those are great positives, the negatives of the “bigs” are just too tall to ignore. While, they will contribute with points, their delicacy and lack of aggression will leave the Sixers with a black hole in the defensive paint. Quite Frankly, Hawes, and rookie center Nikola Vucevic are beyond “soft.” They provide no fear factor for opponents who can penetrate the lane or other big men across the League. Just ask Javelle McGee.
Andre Iguodala should refrain from shooting. No… Seriously.
Before Iguodala lovers stop reading, they should know that this specifically refers to jump shots. His shooting was certainly much better in the second preseason game, but the problem is that it was completely overshadowed by his beyond dreadful shooting in the exhibition opener. He shot 0% from the field while shooting nothing but jumps shots. But time and time again, it has been proven that if he focuses on penetration and getting the ball to the hoop, good things happen.
Coach Collins will look to run whenever possible.
Game 2 provided some interesting court combinations including a lineup that included Elton Brand, Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, Jodie Meeks, and Jrue Holiday and then Lou Williams. That only means one thing. Whenever that unit hits the court expect the closest version of street ball that you may see in the NBA. It may be a bit out of control at times, especially with Williams at the point, but against teams like the aging Boston Celtics, it will provide them an athletic advantage, that wouldn’t otherwise have.
Turner’s Turnaround Continues.
Evan Turner’s improved play in the playoffs doesn’t look like much of a fluke. Turner not only improved his jump shot, he looks better all around. He, not only was able to create shots for himself, he distributed the ball well, handled the ball well, and also grabbed rebounds and played solid defense. On the other hand, he showed that he doesn’t have what it takes to play point guard in the NBA, at least not yet. His decision making must improve for that to ever happen. Though, with Holiday, he will never have to worry about that in Philly.
The diet must be balanced.
In each of the games, 6 Sixers scored 10 points or more. The result was crystal clear: 2 wins. This team can’t win unless everyone chips in and plays their role. With a team that has no elite players, each piece will be responsible for the team’s collective success and or failure. There’s no room to complain about minutes, touches and shots, because everyone will share equal weight.
The snack pack version of the preseason didn’t provide much of a test for the Sixers as the Washington Wizards seem to be doomed from the start. Though, it did show what Rod Thorn truly believes; that in a season where the lockout will not allow newly formed teams to grow and gel with each other, the Sixers have an advantage of already having a team built. A team that knows each other and won’t have to start from scratch. So far, Thorn looks to be right.
However, a huge question looms over that theory. How far can chemistry take a team that simply is empty of championship quality talent?
The answer slowly begins to unfold, Monday night in Portland.