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38 Minutes of Hell

Mark this date, November 29th, on your calendars. It was the first time Willie Green was inserted into the starting lineup. It was the first time Eddie Jordan started a small lineup. It was the first time the Sixers played a small lineup for the entire game and it was officially the day that Eddie Jordan's grace period ended for me. In no world, no matter how many injuries you have on your roster, should Willie Green ever be on the floor for 38 minutes.

Before we get into the rotations, there's something I need to pull from them. Jrue Holiday played 18 minutes at the point tonight. In those 18 minutes, he completely shut down Tony Parker, who penetrated the lane exactly twice. Once, Jrue challenged the shot and San Antonio came away with nothing. The other time, Jrue made a bad play on a pick-and-roll, over-committing to fighting over the screen and getting burned when Parker reversed course and he got into the lane, scoring two points. That last play got Jrue benched for the remainder of the game, in favor of Willie Green. Willie Green spent the entire night getting abused on defense. Parker, Hill and anyone else with the pleasure of being guarded by Green penetrated at will which caused two things to happen, (1) easy shots at the hoop, (2) kick-outs for wide-open threes. Here's a quick look at the difference between having a legit NBA player guarding the point, and having a scrub who should never take off his warmups responsible for denying penetration:

  • In the 23 minutes either Holiday (18 minutes) or Iguodala (5 minutes) were playing the point, the Sixers outscored the Spurs 46 to 32
  • In the 25 minutes either Green (20 minutes) or Ivey (5 minutes) were playing the point, the Spurs outscored the Sixers 43 to 65
  • With either AI9 or Jrue at the point the Sixers scored 2 points per minute, allowed 1.39 points per minute.
  • With either Willie or Ivey at the point, the Sixers scored 1.72 points per minute, allowed 2.6 points per minute.

This isn't a case of me picking through stats to tell a story either. This is an observation that was clear as day while watching the game that was backed up definitively by a clear stat. The Sixers absolutely sucked when either Willie or Ivey ran the point tonight (mostly Green). They were good, very good, with either Iguodala or Jrue at the point. This is important because when Kate Fagan asked Eddie Jordan why Jrue was pulled from the game Jordan said, he thought Willie was going well. Forget defense for a minute, Willie scored 17 points on 17 shots, wracked up 3 assists in 38 minutes and turned the ball over 3 times. I guess maybe he was impressed with Willie's three blocks.

Here's another beauty for the idiot coach file:

"We have to keep people out of the middle and emphasize closing out on three-point shooters," said Sixers coach Eddie Jordan. "The players gave great effort, they followed the game plan."

This quote tells me two things. (1) Eddie Jordan doesn't take defensive play into account one iota when he's making in-game decisions about rotations. (2) Whoever draws up defensive game plans for the Sixers is a complete moron.

Here are your rotations, more thoughts to follow:

If you saw this game with no prior knowledge of the NBA, you would've come away not knowing which team had a better center. Duncan had a couple nifty moves on the blocks and dished the ball very well. Dalembert dominated the glass (especially in the second half), controlled the paint, and showed off a few moves of his own. The Sixers didn't lose the matchup between Tim Duncan and Sam Dalembert.

Again, if you went in with no prior knowledge, you probably would've come out thinking Andre Iguodala was the only superstar on the floor. Iguodala's shooting touch wasn't great, again (7/18 from the floor), but he absolutely dominated the fourth quarter of this game. Check out his stat line from the fourth:

4 points, 7 rebound (1 offensive, 6 defensive), 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 3 different positions played (PF, SG, PG)

The Sixers got two monstrous efforts from starters, Thad Young was unstoppable on the blocks pretty much all night (although they completely abandoned these plays presumably because they aren't as exciting as having Willie Green launch contested  20-footers) and still, they were never really in the game. It was like the Spurs were toying with the Sixers most of the night, and their own coach was using substitutions and timeouts to kill every rally the team put together. I realize the Sixers tied the game up a couple different times, and even took the lead, but it was fool's gold. A team like the Spurs realizes when they're playing a team that can't defend and they also know if they slow things down they're not only going to get an easy shot, they're going to get a gimme whenever they need it, especially when the Sixers put a chump on the ball defensively.

I have about 5,000 more words to write about Jordan choosing Willie over Jrue, his decision to go to the small lineup for 48 minutes tonight, using Primoz Brezec instead of Jason Smith in the second half, but they'll all keep. The last thing I want to say about this one is I thought the Sixer players fought hard, especially in the second half when they absolutely dominated the defensive glass (19 defensive rebounds, only 1 offensive rebound allowed, thanks to Dalembert and Iguodala almost excluslively). You simply aren't going to win many games when the other team is more talented, has a better coach, and your coach is trying to solve maybe the third or fourth biggest issue for the team while ignoring the top two or three. It's not going to happen.

Player of The Game: Dalembert, 14, 14, 2 and 3 blocks.
Team Record: 5-12
Up Next: @ Dallas, tomorrow night
by Brian on Nov 30 2009
Tags: Basketball | Eddie Jordan | Sixers | Willie Green |