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, all the time

First, thanks to all the guys who left their thoughts earlier, it looks like I missed a pretty disappointing game, but I hate to miss any game.

For reasons for the loss I'm not sure we need to look any further than our own handy-dandy +/- worksheet.

Starters
  • Dalembert (15 minutes) +/- 0
  • Brand (41 minutes) +1
  • Thad (36 minutes) -3
  • Iguodala (34 minutes) -1
  • Miller (34 minutes) +2
Bench
  • Willie (22 minutes) -12
  • Lou (15 minutes) -15
  • Speights (19 minutes) -1
  • Ivey (14 minutes) -14
  • Evans (8 minutes) -12
  • Rush (3 minutes, 56 seconds) -11
First of all, how the hell did Rush tally -11 in under 4 minutes of work. That's amazing. More importantly, the bench has, yet again, let this team down in a big way. If you've ever watched an NBA game you've heard an announcer say something along the lines of "Everyone makes a run." It's a fact in the NBA, early leads dissipate. You live with it, you deal with it, and you overcome it. The Sixers, right now, cannot do that. Not even close.

Excepting the Boston and Orlando games, the Sixers have followed an all-too familiar script over their past 12 games or so. It goes like this: Starters come out on fire, build a big lead in the first quarter, Mo goes to the bench, the lead disappears quickly, the team never fully recovers their rhythm the rest of the game.

It's almost like the team relaxes when they get a double-digit lead, and they're shocked into submission when the second team can't hold it. I don't know what the solution is. Maybe Mo needs to send a message, play all of his starters 40 minutes/game until the bench guys earn their minutes. In fact, that's exactly what I'd do.

We'll take a closer look after the jump.

Here's my projected rotation:
  • Dalembert, Brand, Thad, Iguodala, Miller (12:00 to 4:00 in the first).
  • Dalembert, Speights, Thad, Iguodala, Miller (4:00 to 0:00 in the first).
  • Dalembert, Brand, Thad, Lou, Miller (12:00 to 8:00 in the second).
  • Ratliff, Brand, Iguodala, Green, Ivey (8:00 to 4:00 in the second).
  • Dalembert, Brand, Thad, Iguodala, Miller (4:00 to 0:00 in the second).
  • Dalembert, Brand, Thad, Iguodala, Miller (12:00 to 4:00 in the third).
  • Dalembert, Speights, Iguodala, Green, Ivey (4:00 to 2:00 in the third).
  • Brand, Thad, Iguodala, Green, Lou (2:00 to 0:00 in the third).
  • Brand, Thad, Iguodala, Lou, Ivey (12:00 to 10:00 in the fourth).
  • Speights, Thad, Iguodala, Green, Ivey (10:00 to 8:00 in the fourth).
  • Speights, Brand, Iguodala, Lou, Miller (8:00 to 6:00 in the fourth).
  • Dalembert, Brand, Thad, Iguodala, Miller (6:00 to 0:00 in the fourth).
Here's the minute breakdown:
  • Dalembert - 36
  • Brand - 40
  • Thad - 40
  • Iguodala - 40
  • Miller - 38
  • Speights - 10
  • Lou - 10
  • Green - 10
  • Ivey - 10
  • Ratliff - 4
The thinking behind this is pretty simple, the starters have been far more effective than the bench. In fact, whenever the bench has taken over as unit it's been an abject disaster. So instead of reinventing the wheel and essentially crossing your fingers and hoping the bench guys figure things out, lean on what's working. Take a look at the units above, at no time is there less than 2 starters on the floor.

The key momentum minutes are dominated by the starters, and more importantly, the key starters. Each unit should have a clear offensive identity. Lou and Willie only spend 2 minutes together in the backcourt, but Brand, Iguodala and Thad are all on the floor, which should stop their shot-happy ways.

I realize you can't play your starters for heavy minutes like this for an entire season, but you can do it for a stretch of games until a couple things happen.
  1. The first unit figures out how to run with Brand and also how to play in the half court with the rest of their parts.
  2. The bench players raise their play to the level of the starters, because they're held up to that standard. No more Lou playing on an island because there are no other options on the floor. Lou will be the third or fourth option on the floor, this should help with his shot selection. If it doesn't, you cut his minutes further. Same goes for Willie. If those guys don't get the job done, we see Rush out there, running with the starters. See how he does.
Would it work? I don't know. I have a feeling a rigid, trimmed down rotation would give us a much better idea as to what we have on this team. The starters are making the big money and they're also taking a lot of the blame. I'm not sure exactly how warranted it is. They've gotten the lead on almost a nightly basis, and it's usually a fairly sizable lead. The bench has coughed it up almost without fail. Let's lean on the starters and see if they can carry this team for a stretch of 5-10 games. If the results are the same, then we're going to need major personnel changes. If the starters can play on an even keel and put teams away, however, then less should equal more with our bench.

If our bench guys are on the floor with the starters, they're going to have to play like role players. The leadership and talent of the starters (plural, because playing with one starter doesn't do anything), should demand that guys like Lou and Willie play the team game. This should beat the free-for-all, helter-skelter offensive blundering out of them. If it doesn't, well, you got Royal Ivey and Kareem Rush because you thought they could play, give them the chance.

That's what I would do, and why. How would you fix this team, as it's currently constructed? We'll get to trades and other moves later.

Player of The Game: Elton Brand (it's going un-noticed because they're losing, but he's playing top-notch basketball. 21 and 12 tonight)
Team Record: 7-10
Up Next: @ Chicago, Tuesday night.
by Brian on Nov 30 2008
Tags: Basketball | Bulls | Elton Brand | Sixers |