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Hero Ball No More

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The irony of writing a post under that headline the day after Jrue Holiday carried the Sixers with 33 points is not lost on me. This post isn't about a guy taking 20 shots in a game, though. It's about the change that began last season in the playoffs, and has carried on through the beginning of this year.

Here's what I'm talking about. Prior to the playoffs last season, what was your general feeling if the game was tied or close with a couple minutes left in the fourth quarter? My guess is your answer ranged from panic, to fear, to repulsion, to acceptance that this team would find a way to lose. They'd forget everything that had worked on the offensive end for the previous 40+ minutes, instead opting for an isolation for Lou or Iguodala on most offensive possessions. They'd fail to make smart plays on both ends of the floor and a new hero would be crowned on the side as the Sixers left the court shrugging their shoulders in defeat.

Without Igoudala getting the ball because he's the highest paid, or Lou getting the ball because at least he won't turn it over, the Sixers have played the final possessions of the game the same way they play every other minute, as a team. Think back to the past week. They played three tight games, each with key possessions where Lou would've been iso'd last season. In those situations, Lavoy has gotten multiple shots off the pick-and-roll. Jason Richardson got the ball with a mismatch. Evan Turner used picks to get the ball into the paint. Thad has gotten the ball off cuts or on the block. Wright got a good look at a corner three off dribble penetration. And of course Jrue got his looks off the bounce as well.

Is it a coincidence the team has been much better in close games since they abandoned the 1-4, pray for a miracle offense? I don't think so. In this season of frustration over Bynum's absence, this is one area where they can lay the groundwork. Having a dominant center doesn't necessarily translate to success in those late game situations. This team is going to have to run offense to get scores in crunch time, so hopefully this success will serve as a blueprint if/when this team is playing with Bynum, in the playoffs.

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I mentioned this in the game thread, I believe, but Jrue was the third Sixer in the past 27 years to score 30+ and hand out 12+ assists. Barkley did it once and Iverson did it four times.
by Brian on Nov 26 2012
Tags: Basketball | Sixers |