And no one is there to see it, is it still horrible defense?
Losing 119-115 to the Suns is nothing to be ashamed of, I guess. Actually, check that. I'm ashamed. Let's just get right to the rotations.
Jordan's rotations continue to be completely unpredictable, and in some cases nonsensical. The game was even until he went to the bench late in the third. He finally tapped Jrue Holiday to get minutes at the point. He, and the team, responded with a dramatic run. By the time all the starters came back into the game, the Sixers were up 9 and the 8,000+ fans at the Wach were on their feet.
The starters coughed up the lead in the beginning of the third, mainly by over-helping. Jordan went to Speights and Smith in the front court first, that slowed the Suns a little, then he went back to Jrue and the Sixers lead was pushed back up to 4 at 104-100. With 5:58 left in the fourth, Jordan made a fatal mistake. Jrue was pressuring the ball and pushing the pace on offense, he literally hadn't made a mistake since a charge way back in the first quarter, but Jordan yanked him anyway. He put Lou back in at the point, and from that point on the Sixers were out-scored by 8 points.
This was the first game of the year where we saw the old, bad Lou Williams. He continued to be a sieve on defense and down the stretch when the team needed hoops, he decided it was time to show off his jumper. On three consecutive possessions he took two bad threes, and a leaning, off-balance 20-footer that had no prayer of going in. On the other end of the floor, Nash torched him en route to a 20/20 game. The Suns finished 15/30 from three, mainly off Nash penetrating past Lou, and all four Sixers sucking down into the lane to stop Nash from scoring. Obviously, Nash found the open men.
Iguodala shot the ball incredibly well, 11/17 from the floor for 24 points, but overall I was disappointed in his game on both sides of the floor. He didn't make a single trip to the free throw line, despite having multiple size mismatches. His jumper was falling, so I guess that's kind of forgivable, but on the defensive side he was trying to do way too much and knows better than that. His man was Jason Richardson and he continually left him to provide unnecessary help on Nash. He got burned nearly every time.
The Sixers had another mismatch, one that provided points whenever they went to it. Elton Brand on whoever was guarding him. The problem is they only went to it 3 or 4 times. Brand only played 21 minutes and in those 21 minutes, they gave rarely gave him the ball in the post. When they did, he scored on a high-percentage shot and/or the Suns were forced to double team him. I don't know why the Sixers refuse to take advantage of mismatches, but they do with alarming regularity.
There were a couple of bright spots in this game, all coming from the bench. Speights was 8/13 from the floor for 20 points and 8 boards in 30 minutes. More importantly, he was extremely active on the defensive end, jumping out and doubling hard on a couple high picks and fighting for position and rebounds consistently throughout the night. Jason Smith was a physical presence when he was in there, doling out hard fouls to prevent anything on the inside. He also hit a three. Willie Green didn't miss a single three-pointer, mainly because he didn't shoot any which is a dramatic improvement.
And finally Jrue. It was like a breath of fresh air watching the kid defend the point of attack. He kept the ball out of the lane, continually challenged the ball handler from the time he crossed midcourt, fought over or bounced under screens always finding his man before he could get into the lane or get a shot off. He even handled Grant Hill in the post, without help (although the help came anyway once). Everything changed on the defensive end when he was in the game and it's not hard to see why. When the PG doesn't have a free run into the lane, the over-helping is less of a problem.
On offense, he was confident and effective. Nailing a wide-open three, then dribbling back into a three. His two-pointer was a pretty fall-away on the baseline with a quick release. He was easily the most effective guard on the team last night, on both ends of the floor, yet he only saw 15 minutes and he was pulled for the final 5:58. He's not going to be as good as he was night every time out, but no one else on the bench even has the potential to be that good. He needs to be a regular in the rotation and it needs to happen now.
Finally, let's talk about the worst part about last night, the crowd. Here's another picture, this one of the 100 level sent in by Rob.
The paid attendance was 10,205 but take a look at those pictures. 8,000 is being kind. Right now, this team is about as uninspiring as you can get. I have a feeling there are going to be some grumblings coming out of the locker room at some point and yesterday there was even a false "shopping Dalembert" rumor. To be honest with you, this team has the same feel right now that it did before the Korver trade, when Ed Stefanski had to make a trade to get his coach to shake up the rotations. I'm just not sure they have an asset that anyone wants right now, outside of Iguodala and Thad.
Player of The Game: Jrue
Team Record: 3-4
Up Next: @ New Jersey on Wednesday.
I had them at 3-4 after this game when I predicted the first 10, but I never thought they'd look this bad. Not even close.