Even if we chalk tonight's 83-87 loss
at home to the Bucks up to a hangover from the longest road trip of the season, there's cause for alarm here at Sixers' Playoff Run Bandwagon Central. At 14-21, the Sixers are one loss away from falling to their low point, 8 games below .500.
Tomorrow night, they travel to Toronto to take on a Raptors team which hasn't played since Sunday (thanks schedule-makers), then they're back home for a win-able game against the flailing Bulls, then it's right back out on the road for a hellish three-game trip through San Antonio, Houston and then Boston (the San Antonio and Houston games are back-to-back). It would be a minor miracle if they come out of that stretch with a record of 16-24. Brace yourselves, Sixers fans. It will get easier, I promise.
As for tonight's game, the two Achilles heels of this team both played a major roll in the loss: slow starts, and no deep threat. The Sixers were down 10 in the blink of an eye (12-2 actually), and they were 0-13 from beyond the arc. There is probably no solution for the three-point shooting, but the slow starts are something Mo Cheeks really needs to take a look at. Beyond the starting lineup (which I think should be shuffled), the main problem the Sixers have is philosophical. Mo looks to get guys other than Iguodala and Miller into the flow early. The main beneficiary of this is usually Willie Green. Tonight, Green wasn't hitting his shot, so the offense completely stalled. They were stagnant and turned the ball over at will. Having to dig yourself out of a huge hole every night is going to start to wear on these guys, Mo needs to shuffle the deck a little bit and find a way to generate offense early on.
After the first, the Sixers played a very good game, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The starting lineup actually impressed to open the third when their 1-2-2 full-court zone press caused several turnovers which led to a 14-5 run to open the quarter. They led briefly in the third, but couldn't hold it after the turnover bug bit them.
A couple of alarming things from the box score: Willie Green (4/15) too many shots, Lou Williams (4/15) too many shots and a plummeting FG%, Gordan Giricek (0/2) just does not look like a shooter, or really a contributor. On the good side of the ledger, Iguodala had another strong game he was 9/11 on his two-point attempts, and finished with 21 points and 3 steals (we'll just ignore his 0/5 from downtown). Sammy turned in another dominant performance down low, 16 points, 16 boards and 3 blocks.
The entire team did seem a little out of whack. Jason Smith had a pass from Iguodala hit him square in the face because he wasn't expecting it. Dalembert let a pass slip right through his fingers that would've wound up as a dunk in the fourth. Thad Young tripped over his own feet to bring a two-on-one fast break to an abrupt halt. There were a half dozen other plays they just missed, and of course their jumpers just weren't falling.
Rough night, but at least they get a chance to redeem themselves in less than 24 hours.
Player of The Game:
Samuel DalembertTeam Record: