Well, they weren't blown out, they showed several sparks in different areas of the game (mostly in the first half), but they just didn't have enough firepower to overcome the Hawks tonight at the Wach. That makes five losses in a row, and the schedule doesn't exactly get easier from here.
Take a gander at the rotations chart, then I'll have some thoughts on the game below:
I'll get my Jrue report out of the way first. Good and bad, again from Holiday tonight. Early on, he lost Bibby twice on long twos, which got him going. He then drilled three threes in quick succession. After that, Jrue never left him, and if you were paying close attention to the difference defensively when Jrue was on the floor and when he was off, it was stark. There was zero penetration when Holiday was on the ball. Willie got torched, though most of it came from Crawford. Bibby's ankle definitely had something to do with his lack of penetration, but while I wasn't impressed with the overall result of Jrue's defensive work, I was impressed with the in-game adjustments. One play in the third quarter stood out to me. Joe Johnson backed Iguodala down on the blocks, Jrue had Bibby, who was standing beyond the three-point line at the top of the key. Johnson took maybe 4 or 5 dribbles, moving Iguodala all the way to the hole, Jrue held his ground on Bibby, he didn't leave the three-point shooter to double down. That is 100% the right play to make in that situation, and a play that no one else on this roster would've made. If help was going to come, it should've come from a big, not from the guy guarding the only legit deep threat on the floor.
On offense, Jrue looks skittish with his jumper. It seems like if he hits a jumper early, he'll have the confidence to take and make them later. If he doesn't, he's going to run and second-guess himself when he has an open look. We'll just have to see how this plays out. One thing the Sixers desperately needed was Jrue to break down the hobbled Bibby off the dribble and get into the lane. I think he only drove to the hoop once or twice, both times dishing to a guy on the baseline for an open J. Hist stat line wasn't pretty (1/8 from the floor, 1 board, 5 assists, 0 turnovers), but I can live with it. The five assists with zero turnovers is definitely a positive.
The rest of the team leaves me scratching my head. Early on, they had three huge components. Thad was getting the ball in the post constantly with the Hawks trying everyone and anyone to guard him. None of them could. He looked like the Thad of old and finished with 22 points on only 13 shots. Most of that production took place in the first half. They rarely, if ever, went to those mismatches after the break. Other than scoring, Thad was basically a zero, again. Two rebounds, one assist, zero steals, zero blocks in 42 minutes of work. At least he didn't turn the ball over, though.
For a long stretch in this game, Dalembert was the best Sixer on the floor, and not just on the defensive end. He was making the Princeton offense work for a period of time in the first half with nice backdoor passes from the high post. It pains me to say it, but Sammy may just have a better grasp on this offense than some of the other guys. Consider this, Sammy has 2 or more assists in 5 of the past 6 games (3 tonight). Last season, he had more than 2 assists two times. He also had an assist in only 15 of 82 games last year, this season, he has at least one in 10 of the first 16 games. He's already surpassed the total number of assists he had in the entire season in 08-09.
And Andre Iguodala, what can I say about him? The first half was a thing of beauty. He was a monumental facilitator, he was dominating the glass, he was abusing Joe Johnson and even got him out of the game with foul trouble. The only problem was turnovers. He blew three fast-break opportunities with bad passes by my count, including just a horrific behind-the-back attempt that cost them a three-on-one opportunity. Still, he did make for the bad passes on both ends of the floor early on. In the fourth, it looked to me like he was trying to do too much. He definitely didn't get more than a few whistles, but there's nothing you can do about that. He was pressing, trying to put the team on his back when he got back into the game with 8:08 to go on the fourth and the team trailing by 8, and I can't say that I blame him, but I would've preferred to maybe see him on the blocks, or driving with an eye toward dishing because the entire defense was collapsing on him. His shot attempts are way up so far this season, and I don't think that's a good thing. He's our best player, but his shots were low for the past two seasons for a reason, he takes good shots, and when the shot isn't there he finds guys for better looks. I realize they're shorthanded right now, but having Iguodala take 18-20 shots per game isn't the way to make up for it.
Jason Smith had a nice night shooting the ball, 7/13. Willie was greeted with boos when he came off the bench and started jacking bad shots. I can't remember Willie getting booed before. Carney was energetic and got to the line 6 times, more on that later. Kapono hit three of his six shots, but had two horrible turnovers. One where he wasn't expecting a pass from Thad and let it go right off his hand out of bounds, the other was a pass to no one on a break. Crucial plays when the game was still within reach. He's also an absolute sieve on the defensive end and was lagging off Bibby about 15 feet when he essentially ended the game with a wide-open three at the 1:36 mark in the fourth quarter.
Coaching without Brand, Lou and Speights at your disposal means you get some slack that maybe you don't deserve, so I'm not going to kill Jordan for this game. He made due with the guys he had, but there's a philosophical thing here that just bugs the hell out of me. When you're down by a reasonable amount, less than 10 points, and there's more than 3 or 4 minutes left on the clock, you don't come back by trading baskets with the other team. Putting your best possible offensive lineup on the floor without a thought about defense or rebounding just isn't a sound strategy. It may have looked like the Hawks simply had an answer for every big hoop the Sixers hit in the fourth tonight, but the fact of the matter is they didn't have to work awfully hard to get those hoops. Smith, Thad, Kapono, Carney and Iguodala probably isn't going to cut it. In fact, any lineup with Thad that four and Kapono at the three is going to have a hard time getting stops and securing rebounds.
I'm going to cut this short because I just saw something alarming on Twitter and I need to write a post about it.
Player of The Game: Dalembert
Team Record: 5-11
Up Next: @ SAS on Sunday night.