At 7pm tonight we can stop the guesswork. We can stop hoping, dreaming, dreading. Finally, we can simply start watching. The Sixers will play a basketball game that counts for the first time since their embarrassing Game 6 loss back in April. As fate would have it, their shot at redemption will come immediately in Orlando. After the jump, we'll take some time to discuss what you can expect from this blog over the course of the season.
I figured before the season started I'd lay out exactly what my plan is for coverage here on the blog. Every game will have a preview post, in which I'll take a look at the matchups, provide some stats and maybe point out a few trends for the Sixers. This post will also serve as the open thread for the game. After every game, I'll sum up my thoughts. Usually, the following day I'll take a closer look to add some perspective and update the stats I'm tracking. So a minimum of two posts, per game, sometimes three. Hopefully, we'll be able to keep the conversation going even when the team has an off day.
Stats: As I've said many times before, one of the biggest advantages to manically following a team, watching every second of every game, is you can track certain things which fall through the cracks in the box score. I thought long and hard about what interested me, what I'd find the most useful, and I came up with a handful of stats to track.
- Substitution patterns - Elton Brand is back, Jrue Holiday is here, Andre Miller is gone. But the biggest change for this team will be their head coach. From opening day I'm going to keep track of Eddie Jordan's rotations, and unit performance. As part of my postgame wrap I'll share the spreadsheets with you guys so we can play the guessing game of figuring out which combinations work and which don't. I think these sheets will be extremely informative as the season wears on.
- Dead-ball plays - Think back to when Larry Brown was the Sixers' coach, what happened more often than not when he called a timeout at a critical time in the game? If you answered, "The Sixers got a clean look at the hoop on the ensuing play," you're right. This is a great way to judge a coach's x's and o's ability. I'm going to track the Sixers' success in these situations as another barometer to grade Jordan's performance.
- Advanced stats - Just like last season, I'm going to track the team's performance in the four factors, on a game-by-game and season basis. I'm also going to add the team's pace to these calculations and I'll waste a couple of hours every once in a while creating colorful charts to illustrate the obvious.
I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am for the season to begin, so excited, in fact, that I may have to watch the first game on TiVo. There's about a 50% chance I'll be going to game one of the series tonight, but either way, I'll have the preview up this afternoon and a wrap later tonight.
Leave your initial opening night thoughts in the comments.