For the second time in less then a week the 76ers struggled to beat (82-79) a bad New Jersey Nets squad that had been further depleted because of injuries and illness to three key players. Now we could wax poetic about how Thad carried the Sixers in the first half or how Mo Speights was huge in the second stanza or that Sammy D’s defense and rebounding was key or how the home team struggled to make 3s or how AI9 was 4-14 and only scored 9 points which is unacceptable or how the Sixers executed a lot of nice screen & rolls; but we’re not going to do that today.
There’s no sense recapping a game the Sixers should have won easily and didn’t because of the same ills that have plagued them in games 1-7 of this season. We’ve been through that seven times already this year so you already know what we are going to write. We can’t in good conscience simply recap last night’s ugly W when there are bigger issues looming on this 76ers team that threaten to turn the 2009-10 Sixers into the basketball version of the movie “The Perfect Storm”.
In this NBA version of the film “Perfect Storm” the role of the boat captain will be played by Eddie Jordan and the role of the fishing boat “Andrea Gail” will be played by the 2009-10 76ers as a team. The storms that combine to sink the fishing boat in the movie will be portrayed by Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala and Ed Stefanski.
So, here’s a breakdown of how the 2009-10 Sixers could and will sink under the NBA equivalent of “The Perfect Storm” if things don’t change quickly.
Storm #1: Elton Brand — EB is averaging a career low 27 mpg. and that has resulted in a career low of 9.5 ppg. Additionally, Brand has not played a single tick during the 4thQuarter in 4 of the last 5 games. When he is in the game, Brand is not getting any touches. It’s almost as if he has taken an invisible pill, because no matter how bad of a mismatch he has going, the other Sixerswill not toss the rock into him. Brand is a former All-Star who has worked very hard to get back on the court after two devastating injuries and he has shown flashes of solid play this season, so we are sure these recent developments are not sitting well with#42. Now we realize that at times Brand looks like a shell of his former All-Star self. Anyone watching last night’s game saw evidence of this when Brand blew a bunny at the 9:00 mark of the third quarter because he no longer has any hops. However EB is a guy with lot of pride, heart and smarts. He’s not going to let this lack of minutes and touches trend continue for too much longer before he speaks his mind. When that happens, batten down the hatches, it’s going to be rough seas for the home team.
Storm #2: Andre Iguodala — AI9 is the unquestioned locker room leader of this 76ers team, he’s arguably the team’s most talented player and he’s certainly the Sixers best defender. In fact he’s one of the better one-on-one defenders in the League today. So it has to be frustrating for Iggy to watch as opposing point men blow by Louis Williams on a nightly basis or to witness Mo Speightsscrew up yet another defensive rotation or to see Thad get beat baseline by his man over and over again. You can see his anger in the stares Iguodala throws the direction of the other Sixersafter every defensive lapse or in the way he fires his towel into the bench during every timeout that is called after yet another Sixers defensive screw up or by the way he insists on guarding the ball, no matter which opposing player has it during key moments of the 4thQuarter. As the leader of this Sixersteam its AI9’s job to address the team on this topic and talk about how playing good defense is about sacrifice, pride and guts. Knowing Iggy, we’re sure he’s already given that speech, probably multiple times. Unfortunately it hasn’t registered with the other Sixers. So if he follows typical NBA protocol, the next logical step will be a huge blow up in the media. This one has been coming for two years as the Sixers were awful on defense last year as well, so when Iguodala finally blows, look out for waves of epic proportions.
Storm #3: Ed Stefanski — This one you can see for miles and it looks to be slowly growing into a category 5 hurricane. Elton Brand, Stefanski’s $80 million acquisition that was going to take this franchise to the next level is picking splinters out of his ass under Eddie Jordan. Jason Kapono, the 3-point specialist he traded for this past off-season to cure the Sixers shooting woes is too frequently sitting right beside Brand. When Kapono does play, he’s not getting enough touches either. Jordan has Jrue Holiday, the rookie that Stefanski drafted, spoke of so highly in training camp and said would challenge for big minutes this year, sitting behind Louis Williams, the Sixers no defense playing, bad shot jacking starting point man. Additionally Jordan’s player rotations are a mess. The Princeton offense experiment is a disaster and we didn’t think it was possible, but the Sixersare worse defensively this year then they were in 2008-09. Thus witha lot of help from Jordan’s personnel decisions and questionable X & Os, the team stands at 4-4, with two wins over NJ and horrific Ls to Boston and Orlando included in that .500 record. Now we know Stefanski and Jordan have a long history and that Stefanskihand picked Jordan for this job, so EJ probably had a wide berth here, but somewhere it seems to us that Jordan just scrapped the plan Stefanskilaid out for him with the Sixersthis year and went with his own ideas. Ideas which so far this season, have failed. At some point Stefanski is going to loose his patience with Jordan, and when he does he’ll unleash a furry the likes of which have rarely been seen here in Philadelphia. So look out for Hurricane Ed on the horizon, because men will be thrown overboard and careers could be lost.
In any given season, a team could survive running into one of these storms and go on to have a solid year, but for all three of these natural disasters to occur together during one season, well that’s the basketball version of “The Perfect Storm” and it would sink any NBA team.
Unfortunately, the Sixers seem to be headed straight into that scenario. So everyone in Philadunkia nation please prepare to put on your life vests.