So we finally see what we've been waiting for from Elton Brand, and now it's Andre Miller who lets us down. At some point, everyone on this team will have to start playing well. They have to, right?
EB had a terrible first half, 2/6 for 4 points and not a whole lot in any other area either. Ironically, it was the second team who brought the Sixers back, mainly behind much-improved play from Sweet Lou. He still can't shoot to save his life (3/10 on the game), but he's playing a much better point. He's dribbling less, and I only saw one truly horrible play from Lou. In the first, he had the ball on the wing, EB had great position on Hedo on the low blocks and there was no one near him to come for the double. A quick entry pass would've been an easy shot. Instead, Lou kept his dribble and waived EB out of the way. He complied, then Lou tried to drive and force up a shot. Stupid play, but like I said, it was the exception tonight. I'd like to see him take fewer shots, but he was aggressive (7/7 from the line) and he took care of the ball (only 1 turnover).
Back to Brand, he owned the second half. He was 7/8 from the floor for 17 points. Down the stretch he took, and made, huge shots. In fact, I think the only problem in the fourth was that he didn't get enough shots. The teams were trading hoops in the final 2 minutes, with the lead swinging on just about every possession. Then Iduodala started acting silly. On consecutive trips down the floor he took Hedo off the dribble, both times EB slid into his comfort zone, right at the elbow, both times he was wide open, both times Iguodala kept the ball and drove right into a shot blocker. He blew the first layup and drew a non-shooting foul the second time. Brand was as hot as he's been this season and he absolutely should've gotten the ball on both of those plays. If he does, I think the Sixers win this game.
I guess I should spend a little time talking about the game-losing play, although I think it's pretty apparent what the problem was. The Sixers doubled Hedo on the perimter, forced him to drive to his left and had the play completely under control. Iguodala was on him, and Dalembert was tracking him through the lane for the block. For some reason, Thad decided to get involved and provide a triple team on Turk. He abandoned Rashard Lewis, who drained the wide-open three from the corner. That's two games pretty much decided by stupid doubles by Thad in the closing moments (remember Mike Miller's three for the T-Wolves?) There aren't many holes in the kid's game, but this one needs to be addressed quickly.
And finally, let's talk about Andre Miller. 3/13 from the floor is unacceptable from a point guard like Miller. His shot wasn't falling, which is fine, some nights will be like that, but he's exeperienced enough to realize it. He needs to dial it down and stop shooting long before it gets to that point. He especially needs to stick that set-shot three back in his pocket when he can't even stick the 15-footers he usually hits in his sleep. Finally, on the last play of the game he should've given the ball up to Iggy. His internal clock is always off on those plays, and launching a half-court shot with 3-plus seconds left on the clock is disappointing. The Sixers had 4.7 seconds left on the clock, that's enough time for Iguodala to go coast-to-coast for a layup. The odds of him hitting the layup are questionable, but they've got to be higher than a half-court heave, right?
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the job Sammy and Theo did on Dwight Howard tonight. Howard disappeared for about half of this game, and personally I thought they negated his effect on the game throughout. As far as I'm concerned, sending him to the line 18 times is perfectly acceptable, and the 5 turnovers they forced as a unit was excellent. The big guy happened to hit 13/18 from the line, so the strategy doesn't look so great from this particular game, but he's a 54% free throw shooter, you can't gameplan for an anomaly like that. Theo looked good on both ends in his 18 minutes of work. Maybe he should get some more burn.
Sp8s again looked like a man-child. He's got a scorer's touch.
That's all I have for tonight.Player of The Game:
@ Boston, Friday night.