A nine-point loss to Miami, in Miami, is nothing to be ashamed of. More than that, the Sixers should probably hold their heads up high for making a game of it. Still, I can't bring myself to use the term "moral victory" when the Sixers repeatedly shot themselves in the foot. If you squinted really hard, it almost looked like they gave this game to Miami, but that can't be right. I mean, Miami is going to win 70+ games.
Player of The Game
- Meeks was absolutely amazing in the second quarter. He single-handedly brought the Sixers back from the brink with a barrage of shooting this team hasn't seen since the Donyell Marshall days a couple years back. Seriously, though, let's not get carried away. Meeks deserves a look because when he's shooting well, the rest of his game doesn't matter. When he's not shooting well, he's not helping you. We aren't even talking about a guy on Lou's level, because Lou can at least get to the line when he isn't hitting his jumpers. Meeks should absolutely be a fixture in the rotation, but a fixture with a short leash.
- Spoiler Alert: Meeks didn't get the player of the game for one simple reason - Andre Iguodala played a stellar game, on both ends of the floor. He outplayed LeBron James tonight, plain and simple. Iguodala has raised his game to pre-EFJ levels since returning from his achilles strain. He's going to make some (other) team very happy at some point if/when the other shoe drops and he's shipped out of town.
- Jrue played a solid all around game, but his shooting woes continue. 3/9 from the floor for 9 points just isn't good enough, and he got caught on back screens several times, leaving Arroyo open for corner threes. He's sagging off his man, depending on his quick feet to close out on shooters when the ball is swung across the floor, which is all well and good, unless a center sneaks in behind him and slows him when he's trying to close out. If he's going to sag off that much in that situation, he needs to recognize what's happening before the screen is set. By that time it's too late.
- Now that I told you what Jrue did wrong, let me backtrack and tell you when I think this game was lost. Collins started the fourth with Bad Lou at the point, and Miami went on a quick run. After 2:34 seconds in the fourth quarter, a two-point deficit had swollen to 8 and Collins made two subs. In came Brand and Iguodala for Turner and Thad. He absolutely, positively needed to bring Jrue in for Lou at that time. Lou did nothing in this game, and to be honest, without Jrue on the floor, the Sixers were lost on on the offensive end. They have been basically for the entire season. The team isn't running a great deal of offense to begin with, but at least with Jrue out there, they've got someone constantly probing the defense. Constantly exposing weaknesses and starting plays. The Sixers needed stops and hoops at that point, Lou wasn't getting them either. Collins did get Jrue back into the game a minute later, but by that time the damage was done. He needed to stop the bleeding.
- Speaking of Collins, I'm not sure if they showed this on the Philly feed, but after Jrue made a sick pass to Hawes for an easy oop (which Hawes obviously blew), the Miami broadcast showed a close-up of Collins on the bench. It seriously looked like the guy wanted to quit on the spot.
- Evan Turner looks completely lost. I mean, 100% lost. Tonight, I thought his defense was very good and every other aspect of his game was invisible. At this point, I'm not sure how helpful it is to pencil him in as a starter night in and night out, I'm not sure what kind of development is going on when the guy simply won't take shots. 23 minutes, 2 FGA tonight. Hawes had more missed Sissy Hooks&tm; than Turner did attempts, and that's not a rarity these days.
: Iguodala. 20 points on 12 shots (and 5 FTA), 9 boards, 5 assists, 3 steals, 1 block and only 2 turnovers. Collins limited him 39 minutes, or 8.5 fewer than he averaged over the previous two games.
: vs. NJN, later tonight.
The tip is at 7:30 vs. the Nets tonight. Same vacation schedule, no preview, game thread will be up 90 minutes prior to Hawes losing the jump ball, give or take.