This win had it all. By that, I mean it was both meaningless and hollow. A preseason game against a glorified Summer League roster which featured a 26-point swing en route to an eventual 11-point win. Doug Collins lost his cool on the bench, Marreese Speights and Nate Robinson swapped techs, Jrue Holiday fouled out, Evan Turner and Andre Iguodala disappeared and the starting bigs played the smallest game you could ever imagine. Your Philadelphia 76ers, folks.
I'm going to ignore the level of competition for my own sanity, and focus solely on what I saw from the Sixers.
The game can easily be broken down into three chunks, offensively: In the first quarter, they looked rehearsed. The offense Doug Collins has installed was working pretty well, the ball was moving and players were moving. It wasn't a work of art, but it was effective and we saw a couple flashes of potential.
The second and third quarters were complete confusion. There was no spacing, there was little movement, there were horrible results. The players looked tight, the shots were forced and weren't falling. The Sixers dug a double-digit hole before Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala used their athleticism to dig most of the way out (more on this later).
In the fourth quarter, the players looked loose and natural. Jrue and Speights especially turned it on late to put the game away. I'm not sure they were running Collins' sets, but the offense was simple and effective. Guys were taking shots in rhythm and hitting them. Jrue was relying on instincts, not overthinking things out there. Speights was, well, Speights. Catch the ball, measure your defender, shoot no matter what. The key was getting him the ball in a position where he's pretty much unstoppable, which Jrue was doing.
The defense was putrid throughout the night. The main culprits were Jrue's on-the-ball pressure (Nate Robinson treated Jrue like a turnstile on his way to the hoop), and Thad's pathetic attempt to guard middling power forwards. The Celtic bigs took turns picking on Thad and time after time he didn't even put up a fight. It's one thing to have a defensive sieve at PF when you have Dalembert under the hoop erasing mistakes, it's another when his frontcourt mate is equally inept. Once the rest of the team started trying to help Thad out, the wheels pretty much fell off. The Celtics shot 50% on the game, and I'd say you can put most of the blame for that on those two players. Jrue has to be better than that, and he can. Thad, well, this is nothing new. If you go back to the Orlando series a couple of seasons ago, Thad's defense at the four, and Orlando's willingness to exploit it, really swung that series.
In the intro I mentioned the disappearing act Evan Turner and Andre Iguodala played. I'm not sure which is more unacceptable: 1 defensive rebound in 57 minutes for Thad and Brand combined, or 13 field goal attempts in 67 minutes for Iguodala and Turner combined. I don't know what's going on with Turner, but he had a tremendous size mismatch for a large part of this game, and the guy guarding him isn't exactly a feisty defender either. Von Wafer should not hold anyone to 2/6 shooting.
Iguodala only attempted 7 shots, but he at least put a stamp on the game with a stretch of play in the third quarter. When the Sixers needed him most, he turned into the Iguodala of old. Grabbing boards, leading the break, forcing the offense out on the break. Basically, what he's done for the past couple of years whenever the team has needed a momentum swing. He played a 94-foot game and helped bring the team back, unfortunately, we only saw that part of his game for a little while in this one. The rest of the time he was way too passive.
The star of the game for the Sixers was Lou Williams. He did a better job on Nate Robinson than Jrue, he made the right pass several times (and only made the wrong pass once, that I can recall). He was efficient, took care of the ball. If you were doling out playing time based on this game alone, Williams would absolutely deserve to be the starting shooting guard tomorrow night.
That's pretty much all I have. This was the first game I was able to watch on the television (I'll catch tomorrow night's as well), and it was completely demoralizing. Only after a couple hours of digestion was I able to pull the positives out, and I'm not even feeling all that positive about the positives at this point. This team has a long, long way to go. At this point, it's doubtful they'll get there.
Player of The Game: Lou Williams