In an underwhelming, frustrating, and (so far) disappointment filled season for the Philadelphia 76ers, there was been one thread that has held the fabric of the team together. It’s been the all star candidate Jrue Holiday, who is having the best season of his career and quite frankly is the captain of a basketball ship treading through muddy water. But, when that thread comes apart, and when the captain steers off course, the fabric tears itself and the ship finds itself completely lost. There’s no better illustration of this then in the Sixers’ 110-102 loss to Milwaukee Bucks last night.
While, another Sixers loss was disheartening enough for a city starving for wins from anybody – anywhere (Villanova notwithstanding), Holiday’s failing performance in what was an all star selection audition against Brandon Jennings sunk their emotions even lower.
After all, if a basketball team is going to roam in the world of sub-mediocrity, at least it’d be nice to do so with an all star to boast about. But, as Kyrie Irving cemented his all star spot with a 40 point outburst against the Celtics, Holiday looked just as dull as the team he would represent in Houston, in their final game before all star reserves are announced.
Meanwhile, Jennings (who was a fringe all star candidate at best), the selfish, score first point guard, who only sees the hoop and the ball, carried his Bucks in the second half as Holiday only looked like a spectator. Holiday, the total opposite of a player such as Jennings, one who represents what a point guard should be, was outplayed by the gunner. And for Jrue, it happened to occur on the worse possible night. Holiday went 3-12 from the field for only 9 points, though he did end up with 12 assists.
Jennings had 25 points and dropped 7 dimes. 16 of those points came in the second half as Jennings proved to be key in the clutch, when it mattered most. With the Sixers surging and trailing by only 5 in the middle of the fourth quarter, Jennings hit a three point dagger in the face of Thaddeus Young to put the Bucks up 88-80. Later, in back-to-back possessions, Jennings was responsible for increasing the Bucks leading lead back up to 97-90 by driving to lane and scoring on one trip. Then dishing the rock to his big man Larry Sanders on another.
Holiday, on the other end, was ice cold and never got his scoring off the ground, from the tip-off to the end. He had a critical, game icing turnover with 1:07 left in the 4th quarter with the Sixers down 101-94. That was one of his 8 turnovers on a night that was ultimately a disaster for Jrue and the team.
Dishing out 12 assists is nice, cute and team oriented, but with a team devoid of special talent, Holiday, as the one true glue of the team, should have been more selfish and gotten himself into an offensive rhythm rather then trying to play into a flow of an offense that is simply without a flow. It’s an offense that doesn’t even have a pulse. In the Sixers’ case Holiday’s over willingness to share is not beneficial, not for this team. The Bucks were probably quite satisfied in allowing Spencer Hawes to post 21 points, if the trade off meant that Holiday would be a turnover machine and only score 9. After all, Hawes and the other bigs did nothing at all to stop Ersan Ilysova. By the way, any effort from Andrew Bynum, when and if he returns, could propel the Sixers into a legitimate playoff team. Though, that is a story for another day.
This story is about Jrue Holiday. A story that almost was guaranteed to include an all star trip, just doesn’t seem so sure anymore. After all, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are members of a playoff team, if the postseason began today, they both outplayed Holiday in a face to face match up, and Jennings (with Ilyasova’s help) took over the game when he had to.
So, the question is simple. Is Jrue Holiday an all star? If his last two performances are any indication, the answer is a resounding no! He came up small in the 4th quarter of a nationally televised contest, in which the Sixers had battled back put themselves in a position to win against a much better Spurs’ team. On Tuesday night, he was microscopically small in a game that featured 2 candidates for an all star spot against him.
But, has his body of work earned him a selection? Should it earn him a selection? Yes, he’s the captain guiding a ship through muddy water. Yes, he’s the lone bright spot on a disappointing season. But if he’s not good enough to at least put the Sixers in a position to chase a playoff spot, is Jrue Holiday really an all-star?