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EB couldn't stop the Rhino tonight. (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)I'm sick of 1-8 teams.

I'd love to say the Sixers played a horrible game tonight, but in all honesty, they didn't play that poorly. Of all the things that would've sunk the Sixers against the T-Wolves tonight, I never thought it would be their interior defense, but that's what did it. Al Jefferson you can understand, the guy is a beast and he's got more moves than he knows what to do with in the low post. You can live with his 25 points. Ryan Gomes and Craig Smith, however, cannot hit for 35 points against you. Alas, they did.

Honestly, the Sixers didn't play a bad game defensively. I thought their doubles were crisp and came at the right time (except for the killer one, check after the jump for the skinny). They didn't leave the shooters open, for the most part. They controlled the glass.

On offense, they shot 47% from the floor, although they went through a couple long scoreless droughts, and only scored 13 in the third. They were a pitiful 1/11 from three and a completely unacceptable 15/23 from the line (Iguodala was 4/9 from the line.) Those are really the only two negative numbers on offense. They took care of the ball, 15 turnovers is acceptable. They grabbed 11 offensive boards. In fact, I didn't think their execution down the stretch on offense was particularly bad (more on this after the jump as well.)

This game came down to the effort put in by those three big men for Minnesota, and the Sixers' inability to stop them. Plain and simple.

Much more after the jump.

As decided earlier today in the comments, I tracked the Sixers' defensive double teams. I disregarded doubles resulting from screens and Reggie Evans' spaz doubles at half court. These are the doubles which happened with some thought and for some reason.

  1. Al Jefferson in the post: Thad leaves Mike Miller to double down (Jefferson misses forced shot) BAD never leave Miller
  2. Al Jefferson in the post: Brand helps from the middle of the floor (Gomes is fouled after receiving an interior pass) GOOD, bad help from weak side, though.
  3. Rashad McCants at about the foul line: Brand doubles from weak side (Wide open layup) BAD, why would you double McCants with Iguodala on him?
  4. Gomes in the post: Evans helps (Brewer hits wide-open jumper) BAD, no need to help Brand in that situation, although Brewer is the guy you want to leave open.
  5. Mike Miller in the corner: Speights comes to help and trap (turnover) EXCELLENT, Speights read the situation perfectly and caused a turnover.
  6. Jefferson in the post: Iguodala leaves Mike Miller (Miller drains the three) BAD, do not double off Miller.
  7. Jefferson in the post: Brand comes from inside to help (Collins misses layup) GOOD, the lane was clogged, forced Collins into a tough shot instead of giving Jefferson an easy one.
  8. Jefferson in the post: Andre Miller helps early off of Foye (Missed layup) GOOD, help came early and was effective.
  9. Jefferson in the post: Andre Miller comes early again (Turnover) EXCELLENT.
  10. Jefferson on the wing: Thad comes before Jefferson gets anywhere near the hoop, leaves Miller. (Miller drains a wide-open three) HORRIBLE, this was the game. It pushed a 1-point lead to 4 and there was no reason for it. Jefferson would've had to shoot an 18-footer or take Sammy off the dribble. No need to double, especially no need to leave Miller.
Looking back, maybe they should've used Andre to double down on Jefferson more than they did. Jefferson never scored against the double, and the Sixers were really only burned by it three times, the last one being the dagger.

I tracked one more thing at the end of the game. With 3:15 left on the clock, the Sixers pulled to within 90-89. Here are their offensive possessions from that point on.
  1. Miller, drive to the hoop - Layup good.
  2. Brand, jumper from the elbow - Miss (good shot)
  3. Iguodala jumper in the lane - Fouled, made 1/2.
  4. Miller tough jumper - Good from 17.
  5. Iguodala forced three, missed, Brand with the offensive rebound and put-back.
  6. Iguodala forced three - Missed, desperation.
7 points on their final 6 possessions, with a missed free throw in there. That's not bad execution, the T-Wolves just did better.

Some random notes to finish this thing up:
  • Mo used offense/defense subs in the final minute and a half of the game. This is the first time I can remember him using this.
  • Rush and Marshall should've been on the floor for that final possession when the score was 100-96. Worst-case, they spread the floor and someone gets an easy drive to the hoop. Best-case, they drain a three. Willie was in there instead.
  • Thad was all over the place in the first half, disappeared in the second. They even called a play for him in the post early on and he scored on a beautiful hook, never called another for him.
  • Lou was much improved tonight, although his stat line doesn't really say so. I especially like his dish to Speights for a dunk.
  • Thad had back-to-back sick assists, the better of the two being a drive on the baseline and a lob to Sammy for the jam.
  • Iguodala + Brand = 15/36 (41.7%)
  • Thad + Miller = 15/24 (62.5%)
  • I really wish the Sixers could've found a way to get Mike Miller, his line tonight: 4/7 from the floor, 2/4 from 3, 10 boards, 6 assists, 2 steals.
  • Iguodala's line was impressive, if you don't count the shooting stats: 17 points, 9 boards (4 offensive), 6 assists, 2 steals.
  • First one to 100 wins.
Player of The Game: Miller
Team Record: 5-6 (get over .500 already)
Up Next: The Clips, @ home on Friday night.

+/-: The spreadsheet is updated. Tonight's top performer was Ivey (+3), worst was Willie (-9)
by Brian on Nov 19 2008
Tags: Andre Miller | Basketball | Sixers | Timberwolves |