This one bothers me. The opening night loss you can chalk up to jitters, I guess. Tonight, you could make the excuse that it was the second night of a back-to-back, on the road, against a well-rested team in their home opener, but you can shove that excuse when you have a 23-lead. Absolutely forget it. This was an embarrassing loss
We'll get to the good stuff after the jump, if I can stomach it. Right now, we're talking about the end of the fourth quarter, because I really think Iguodala was trying to prove he's worth that monster contract, and he wound up doing exactly the opposite.
It started well in this sequence, he blocked a Joe Johnson shot from the baseline with the game tied at 86. From there, it was all downhill. On the very next possession, Iguodala was handling the ball at the top of the key, three-point range. With plenty of time left on the clock and Joe Johnson basically in his jock he decided to go for the dagger. He raised, kicked out his legs, completely bricked the three, then flopped to the ground, I guess hoping to draw the foul. Josh Smith gathered the rebound and hit Joe Johnson on the other side of the floor for the dunk and the lead.
Fast forward to 42 seconds left in the game, Sixers still down by two. The offense starts with Brand on the left side of the floor, he's doubled, outlets quickly, the ball swings all the way around to Thad in the corner, but the defense recovers. Thad swings it back to Iguodala who immediatly drives into the crowded lane, he tries to do some kind of a spin, and walks. This was reminiscent of the play where he tried to go behind his back in traffic to Brand for a dunk but threw the ball away. On the ensuing possession, Mo actually put Thad on Joe Johnson, who torched the Sixers all night. Thad kept up on him and tried to draw a charge all the way out by the timeline with 5 seconds left on the shot clock. There was no whistle, there shouldn't have been, but Johnson was left 30 feet from the hoop with 2 seconds left on the shot clock. That's excellent defense in that situation. Unfortunately, Johnson drained the miracle three and that sealed the game.
Earlier, in the comments, gdog asked if I'd trade Iguodala straight up for Michael Redd right now. My answer was, and still is, no. But if you asked me the same question about Joe Johnson, I'd make the deal in a heartbeat. Johnson was a complete stud tonight, and there's no question who the Hawks are going to ride down the stretch in tight games.
There were several other notable plays in the fourth, good and bad:
- When the Hawks made their first push early in the 4th, cutting the lead to 5, Thad came up big with a three.
- Later in the quarter, when the Sixers desperately needed a hoop, the ball was moved inside and out, then around the perimeter until it finally landed in Thad's hands for a three. He sunk it. Waived off because either Dalembert, Evans or both of them were camped in the lane and got called for a 3 second violation.
- With 2:57 left there was a loose ball under the Hawks hoop. Three white shirts around the ball and only Brand for the Sixers. Elton was first on the floor, got to the ball and called a timeout before he could get tied up. Great hustle.
- Sammy hit two super-clutch foul shots with the Sixers down two. Not sure that makes up for the dropped passes or the 3 second call, but it was a good sign.
After the jump we'll talk about the two bright spots. I think you can probably guess their names.
I lied, I'm not done with the bad things yet. A couple more points...
- When Willie Green and Lou Williams were sharing duties in the backcourt, you know, when the 23-point lead was evaporating, I counted 8 possessions out of maybe 12 when the ball wasn't passed once. Not one time. Those two were just bringing the ball up the court, dribbling around, and shooting. It was pitiful.
- Mo's 3 guys off the bench tonight: Lou Williams, Willie Green and Reggie Evans. Rush, Speights, Marshall, Ratliff, Ivey. None of them sniffed the floor. I'm not 100% sure that any one of those guys besides Speights is really an upgrade, but you need to give them a look. I don't like this "These are my guys, they were here last year," mentality.
- Elton Brand is going to stab Samuel Dalembert by the end of the season. Probably in the hands. Of Elton's 4 turnovers tonight, I believe at least 2, maybe 3 went right off Sammy's hands and out of bounds. Those should've been assists.
OK, now we're onto the good...sort of. Did anyone see Thad's first quarter? Holy crap. 17 points on 7/10 shooting, 3 from downtown. He carried the offense and looked cool doing it. Wait, not done with the bad yet. How the fuck does Mo sit Thad for basically the entire second quarter after that start? What the hell was he thinking? Excuse the language, but I thought it was called for in this instance.
Thad was all over the floor, driving to the hoop with that awesome out-of-control-but-somehow-still-under-control spinning lefty dribble and converting at the hoop. Punishing the Hawks every time the gave him a centimeter of space behind the three-point line. I think it's time we stop this whole, "We don't need to call plays for Thad," thing. You may not have to, but you should. He's the second-best option on the court when Iguodala's playing like this.
One more thing. Where did Andre Miller's jumper go? Last year he was deadly from about 18 feet in. Absolutely could not miss. He can't hit the broad side of a barn right now.
The other highlight was EB. I'd love to see more points from him, and I think they'll come as soon as they realize they need to get him more shots, but his work on defense and on the glass has been amazing. 17 points and 16 boards tonight.
The big theme of the night was Josh Smith vs. Elton Brand. Smith hit a couple of prayer threes (anytime he sinks a three it's a prayer, but the one he hit over Reggie Evans as the shot clock expired was beyond belief), but otherwise he was a trainwreck on offense. There's really no comapring these guys. I love watching Smith play, and his athletic ability is a sight to behold, but there's no way the Sixers would've been better off with him.
That's all I've got. Do your worst to Andre Iguodala in the comments. This is one of the few times I won't defend him.Player of The Game:
Thaddeus YoungTeam Record:
Kings in Philly on Monday NightAlmost forgot:
This is the second loss of the season and it's also the second loss that has been nearly a mirror image of a loss from last year. Toronto torched us with a ton of threes last season and Atlanta came back from 20+ down against last season as well. I'd like to avoid any more deja vu performances, at least the bad ones.