Pretty much every strength the Sixers rely on to overcome their terrible big man rotation failed them tonight. Plus, their terrible big man rotation was predictably terrible, led by Spencer Hawes, circa 2010. (game capsule
Here's your rotation chart. You really only need to look at the end of the third/beginning of the fourth. It was a two-point game before the Pacers hit back-to-back threes at the end of the third, then they blew it wide open at the beginning of the fourth:
It's easy to look at the box score and say the Sixers lost because they didn't get their usual production off the bench. You'd be wrong, but you can definitely say that. The Sixers lost this game for one reason, and one reason only. They couldn't defend to save their lives. Andre Iguodala gets a lion's share of the credit when the defense is good, because it all starts with him stoning the other team's best perimeter scorer. Well, when the defense fails miserably, he has to take the blame as well. He started out really well on Granger, baiting him into bad jumpers early. But Granger got a couple of easy looks off offensive boards and broken plays around the hoop and that got him going to the point where Iguodala couldn't even slow him down.
Granger wasn't the only one who had a disgusting night. George Hill was unconscious from the outside, Dhantay Jones had a quick scoring spurt and the Pacers entire front line basically got whatever they wanted all night long. The Sixers gave up 135.06 points-per-100-possessions tonight. They average about 96. Chalk it up to an anomaly, if you like. Personally, I'm putting the blame on Iguodala's poor performance combined with the return of Spencer Hawes in the middle. It's amazing that getting your starting center back can suddenly transform your defense from menacing to horrifyingly soft, but that's what we saw tonight. Hawes was pushed around by every member of Indy's front line. On the offensive end he threw up a slew of those weak half hooks. Passing be damned, I did not miss watching this guy play one iota. If you want to give him a pass for missing a month-and-a-half, be my guest. As far as I'm concerned there's no excuse for playing like Hawes did tonight.
I mentioned the bench production earlier. It was bad, very bad, but overall this was a great offensive game for the Sixers thanks to hot games from every starter who isn't a spineless seven-footer. The starters shot 65% (30/46) from the floor and scored 70 points on those 46 shots. They more than made up for Lou's terrible showing off the bench. Lou was completely thrown off when he didn't get his typical fouls called early and he never made the adjustment, but it really didn't matter. He did his damage on the defensive end.
This was an extremely disappointing loss, but it didn't really follow the typical pattern. The Sixers traded bucket for bucket with the Pacers through about 34 minutes, they just didn't have the firepower to keep it up for 48. Luckily, they don't play many games like that, not with their defense. It's just a shame this unfamiliar team picked this game to show up for. I hope they got it out of their system.
Player of The Game:
I went with Turner, mainly because he had a much tougher matchup tonight with Paul George on him, and he turned in his most efficient game of this four-game string (9/11 for 21 points). He only had 4 boards tonight, but Indy really didn't miss any shots. Jrue was a close runner up (7/8 for 17 points). Those two guys absolutely dominated their starting matchups, and they still got blown out.
Good game, but a failure. 2 FTs to 3 TOs (3-12-2 since inception, I believe).