The Sixers put their practice time to good use in between the Toronto loss and the Houston win. One change they made seemed designed to serve two purposes: Keeping their legs fresher and limiting the wide-open looks from three their opponents had been getting.
If you go back and look at the game tape, you'll see the Sixers utilizing almost a matchup zone on the perimeter. It wasn't a pure zone, they were playing man-on-man on the ball, they were matching up the same way on the inside, but off-the-ball, on the wings, they were switching instead of following their men through screens and into the corner. For example, several times, Jrue's man would pass the ball off to Harden, then cycle through the lane and wind up in the corner. Instead of following Lin (or Douglas) through the mess in the lane and rushing out to him, Jrue would instead communicate the switch with Wright, Richardson or Turner and then pick up their men when they popped out to the wing. This subtle shift limited the quick pass for a good look, and also limited the amount of energy Jrue would have to spend fighting through those screens. It made Houston work harder to get a good look, and also limited the really good looks from the perimeter which would typically be created by simple off-the-ball cuts.
Overall, the defense wasn't spectacular, but Houston rarely got a wide-open look at a three, which was probably the goal of the change.
It's nice to see some changes in philosophy coming out of that horrific stretch of games. The Sixers coaching staff should have plenty of time to iron out other problem areas over the next couple of weeks with ample off days and very few travel days in the midst of this home-heavy stretch of games.
I'm surprised the pro-Turner faction of the fan base didn't jump all over this story by Jordan Raanan. Basically, Jason Richardson followed thesame script Jodie Meeks did last year, requesting an audience with Doug Collins to talk about his role with the team, and seemingly his decreasing minutes. The result: Collins saying Richardson is the third leg of the team's leadership, with Jrue and Thad being the other two. No mention of Turner.
Sometimes, you have to think the Sixers are snake-bit. Coming into Saturday's game, Omer Asik had hit 1 of his previous 10 free throw attempts. Since these teams last met, he'd gone 16/47 from the line (34%). Against the Sixers on Saturday, he was 4/4 from the line. In their previous meeting, he was 7/9. Against the Sixers: 84.6%, against the rest of the league: 51.3%.
Speaking of free throws, what were the odds heading into the game on Saturday that Jrue Holiday would finish with as many made free throws as James Harden?
Off day today, rest up. Hornets tomorrow night.