Even though we are huge 76ers fans and NBA fans in general, we typically put very little to absolutely no stock in the League’s preseason games. However with so many changes in the Sixers lineup, a new head coach and a new offensive philosophy we thought it may be a good idea to pay close attention to the home team’s preseason efforts so we can form an educated opinion of what to expect from the Sixers in 2009-10.
So far that’s been no easy task. Except for the Knicks game on Monday which was televised on MSG, we’ve had to either listen to the Sixers online or read the web the day after the game to keep tabs on the squad this preseason. Obviously that is not the ideal evidence to base an analysis of your team on, but we’ll give it a run anyhow.
The long and the short of it is that the Sixers have been all over the place this preseason. They’ve had really high moments and some scary low ones as well. But as Elton Brand told us, “We’re trying to instill winning, it’s about winning and when we’re out there on the court we want to win. We’ve done that thus far and it’s just a great feeling.” It’s hard to disagree with that theory.
Below is our breakdown of the great and the awful from the Sixers 4-0 preseason start.
The Sixers struggle to make FT’s and they’re not getting any better at it. They hit 22-30 vs. NYK; 27-29 vs. NJN; 26-28 vs. TOR in Game 2 and 22-32 vs. TOR in Game 1. That’s a total of 97 for 129 or 75.2%. That’s not much of an improvement over last year’s 74.5%. For comparisons sake, Toronto led the League last year at 82.4%. The Sixers 74.5% placed them in the bottom 10 in the NBA for 2008-09.
The Sixers have moved the pill very well so far in the preseason. Exhibit A was the incredible 38 baskets on 32 assists vs. TOR1. Exhibit B was the 27 baskets on 13 dimes vs. TOR2. Exhibit C was the 32 baskets on 19 dimes vs. NJN. Finally, Exhibit D was the 34 baskets on 15 assists we witnessed vs. NYK.
Despite the high praise for Jrue Holiday by ED Stefanski in his conference call with Philadunkia and other blogs, it seems Holiday is struggling mightily in practice to grasp the NBA game and the Princeton offense. Holiday logged only 7 minutes of tick against the Nets and then was hit with the feared DNP – Coach’s Decision against the Knicks. In his comments after Wednesday’s practice, Jordan stated that he “felt bad he didn’t get him in the game”. He followed that statement by noting that Knick’s guards — Chris Duhon and Nate Robinson – played at a “higher level than is usual for a pre-season game” and Jordan said he didn’t feel comfortable tossing Holiday into that situation. C’mon really? Our first issue with that excuse is the fact that Duhon and “Kryptonate” are not exactly All-Star caliber guards. So how high of a lveel could they possibly have been playing at? Our second issue is that the preseason is all about tossing rookies into situations that are above their heads. You certainly don’t want to do it during the regular season.
Brand appears to be as he assured everyone repeatedly, “100% healthy” as he played in back-to-back road games up in Toronto and then put up 20 & 8 vs. NYK which was his fourth game in seven days.
The Sixers are not making enough 3’s because Jason Kapono is not taking enough 3’s. The team opened the preseason like a bunch of farm boys from Indiana on 9-14 shooting vs. TOR1. Of course Jimmy Chitwood (Jason Kapono) led the way, going 2-2. They were a horrid 4-18 vs. TOR2 and Kapono was a mind blowing 0-3. They were 2-8 vs. NJN and again Kapono was 1-1. The team shot 3-9 from deep vs. NYK. At the Garden Kapono was 1-1.
The Sixers had trouble putting away a NYK squad that shot 30% from the field (29-94). The main reason why? We’ll suggest it was the 28 turnovers committed by Philadunkia’s home team.
The only thing standing between former Temple star and legit deep ball threat Dionte Christmas and a roster spot is the Sixers willingness to eat a contract. We would suggest Willie Green’s as the special of the day. By the way Christmas making this roster is a good thing.
Yes they give nickel-dime calls to the League’s stars and frequently forget to blow the whistle during obvious violations, but we should all pray that real NBA refs come back soon. The 55 fouls called in NJN game was enough evidence for us.
Installation of the Princeton Offense is not going as smooth as possible. Jordan has admitted that he has only taught the Sixers a small portion of the famous read & react scheme and it appears to us that Sixers are having trouble with the little they have learned so far. In the NYK game you could see frustration on the faces of the Sixers. As Elton Brand told us last weekend, ““Sometimes the offense we look better at it than other times,” said Brand. “When its flowing its flowing well and we’re doing well, but other times we get bogged down a little bit. We’re finding ways to fight our way out of it; we’re still learning the new system…”
Jordan took the team out of the P’ton O after the first quarter vs. NYK based on some of the Knicks knowing the P’ton O (Jarred Jefferies and Larry Hughes played for Jordan in Washington) and the fact that Jordan hadn’t installed all of the options and thus the Sixers were without the necessary counter moves. So our question is how long before Jordan installs those counter moves? If you look at the Sixers opening month of the NBA schedule it has to be soon because in that stretch, the Sixers play 5 games against teams with inside knowledge of the P’ton O (@ NYK; vs. NJN; @ NJN; vs. Charlotte; @ Wash.).
The Sixers can score in bunches as the 38 points in the fourth quarter vs. the NJN and the 32 points in the third quarter vs. NYK proved.
The Sixers are also capable of going ice cold from the field. Check out this disturbing third quarter stat sheet against the Nets — six turnovers and only four field goals.
For a guy who is supposedly 100% healthy and received glowing praise on his game from teammates, the coaching staff and Ed Stefanski during the end of the summer and training camp, Jason Smith’s burn numbers are trending in the wrong direction. Smith logged 25+ mins. vs. TOR1; 14+ vs. TOR2; 8 mins vs. the NJN; and then only 6 mins vs. NYK. It should be noted that Smith allegedly has been suffering from flu symptoms lately.
So far the Sixers are all following the NBA’s Twitter ban / guidelines. That must be hard for Tweet addicts like AI9 and Louis.
- It’s going to be interesting to see how Jordan handles the crowded front court situation this season. One “big” is going to struggle to find playing time for the Sixers in 2009-10. Behind Brand, Thad, Sammy D and the frequent rotations by AI9 at small forward; coming off the bench and competing for tick down low you have Speights, Smith and Brezec. There are simply not enough minutes to go around for all those “interior” players. But depth in the post area is a good thing.