And the myth continues. The "if only"s and "so close"s are spewing out of people's mouths and it's all meaningless. Eddie Jordan will lead you to believe the Sixers aren't that far away, but it's all lip service. This team is headed nowhere fast and we haven't seen the worst of it yet.
My wrap is going to be brief tonight, because I'm working on a longer post. Here's tonight's rotation chart
Don't let the final score, or even the decent run at the end of the game fool you. The Sixers played 7:10 of spirited basketball tonight, and it was all downhill from there. They came out on fire, were quickly undermined by a ponderous substitution by Eddie Jordan and the rest was a painful succession of shaky defense and stagnant offense, offset by monstrous efforts on the glass by Dalembert (14 boards, 9 defensive), Brand (10 boards, 6 defensive) and surprisingly, Thad Young (11 board, 8 defensive). The defensive rebounding delayed the inevitable and kept their brief comeback alive longer than it should've been.
I'm finding it hard to come up with words for how disappointed I am in this franchise right now, so I'm going to try to concentrate on individual efforts rather than the big picture. Here are a few notes from my clipboard during the game:
Player of The Game:
- 15 minutes/game for Jrue, huh? He got 8 tonight, 25 for Willie.
- Jrue's memorable play of the night was a sweet bounce pass he threaded through traffic to get Thad a wide-open layup in transition. He shined on defense when he was on the ball, not so much when he was chasing guys off the ball, which leads me to...
- I HATE lineups where Jrue is paired up with a smaller, weak defender (Iverson and Green both fit this bill). Jordan instinctively puts Jrue on the opposing team's shooting guard and the team doesn't take advantage of the kid's biggest strength. If you're going to play this kind of back court, I'd prefer a size mismatch at the two to absolutely no defense on the ball. In an ideal world, you'd have Iguodala at the two and Jrue at the point, but I'd settle for just designating Jrue as the on-the-ball defender whenever he's on the floor.
- Thad was a man in this game. 11 boards, and he really had to fight for them. He looked hungry out there and he dropped 15 points on 11 shots to boot. What did that effort get him? Benched down the stretch.
- Willie Green continues to amaze me. He played what I thought was his best peripheral game of the season. His defense on the ball was pitiful, but that's to be expected. What was a shock was his work on the glass and actually seeing him making plays for his teammates. Of course, even with 5 boards and 5 assists, he still found a way to do more harm than good. Here's a quick look at his shot selection:
- 17-foot jumper with 18 left on the shot clock. Missed
- 22-foot jumper with 22 left on the shot clock. Missed
- 9-foot contested jumper with 13 left on the shot clock. Missed
- Layup on the break. Made
- 16-foot jumper with 15 seconds left on the shot clock. Missed
- 22-foot jumper with 8 seconds left on the shot clock. Missed (team was down by 5 with 2:15 to go in the game at the time)
- 19-foot jumper with 22 seconds left on the shot clock. Missed (team was down by 5 with 1:13 to go in the game at the time)
The only thing worse than a bad jumper is a bad jumper taken early in the shot clock. OK, there's actually something worse than that. How about taking a bad jumper early in the shot clock when you're the 4th or possibly 5th best player on the floor for your team? Yeah, that's worse. It's also Willie specialty. Of course, he shouldn't have even been on the floor, so it's only 90% his fault.
- Brand was aggressive if not overly effective tonight. He rarely settled for jumpers, instead driving to the hole again and again. While I like the aggression, I'm not sure I'm crazy about him having to make moves off the dribble starting 15-18 feet from the hoop. You'd have to think you could run more plays to get him the ball closer to the hoop. I didn't see much in the way of P&R's involving Brand either. He really should've had at least 3 or 4 more points. He got mauled on one made shot and had another waived off when he was called for a bogus charge.
- In the under-appreciated category, Andre Iguodala scored 24 points on only 13 shots. Go to the line 8 times, converting 7 of them and made Trevor Ariza look like Kobe's waterboy on the other end, which he really should still be. Ariza scored 13 points on 13 shots, but did contribute in other areas.
- Iverson did his best to bring the Sixers back down the stretch, and he may just have finished the job if Willie had been sent to the bench with about 3:00 to go. He looked much better tonight than he did on Wednesday.
- Dalembert probably took a few more shots than he should have, but turned in another stellar performance on the glass and the defensive side of the ball. 40 rebounds in his past three games, kind of makes you wonder why Jordan limited him to 16 and 20 minutes in the two games prior.
Thad. Pretty much whenever he grabs double-digit boards he's your player of the game.
Saboteur of The Game*:
Golden State on Monday.
* It goes without saying that Eddie Jordan would win this award on a nightly basis, so I'm not including coaches in the voting.