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I'm Calling 3 A Streak

Sp8s was a man possessed tonight. (ap)
I don't really care who the wins came against. The Sixers have had to deal with their coach getting canned and the loss of their best player for at least a month, but they've still found a way to win three straight. The past two wins required comebacks in the fourth, so I'm calling it a streak.

Tonight's game was marred by poor rebounding and porous defense through the first three quarters. For once, though, this team's shooting, particularly from three, made up for their lapses in the other areas. Amazing.

After the jump we'll dissect Coach DiLeo's rotations, and take a magnifying glass to player production at position.

Let me get the bad stuff out of the way first. Thad Young, Reggie Evans, Theo Ratliff, Samuel Dalembert and Samuel Dalembert combined to play 96 minutes at power forward and center. As a group, they grabbed 17 rebounds. That's unacceptable. If anything could've cost the Sixers this game, it was rebounding. If Thad's going to see the bulk of his minutes at the four, he needs to concentrate more on boxing out and crashing the boards than getting out on the break. I also can't fully get behind Speights as the starting center until I see him get more active on the glass.

Iguodala started 3/3 from the floor, hitting two mid-range jumpers and a three in the first quarter. From that point on he was 1/6. That stat may be a little deceiving, and honestly I'm sick of hearing about how he's a drag on this team and he needs to go. Every single night Iguodala contributes in just about every area of the game. In this game, when his entire team seemed to take a night off of the boards, Iggy picked up the slack. While his shooting from the field wasn't pretty, he went to the line 11 times and hit 9 of them. Add 9 boards, 4 assists and only 2 turnovers to that line and you've got a solid game.

Thad had a woeful start (2/7 from the field in the first half, to go along with 3 turnovers), but really came on in the second. He finished 4/12, but hit 2 threes in the second and went 8/8 from the line with 4 steals.

Now, for the unbelievable. Lou Williams 27 points on 10/17 shooting was outstanding. His 16 points in a 6-minute stretch in the second quarter was simply amazing. He was as hot as I've ever seen him and the rest of the team just got him the ball and watched. My jaw dropped 3 or 4 times in that stretch. Lou also seems to have a nice chemistry working with Speights. He hit him for 2 alley-oops and a sweet pass on the break to Speights as a trailer for a slam and a foul. Speights was 7/9 from the floor for 17 points in 22 minutes and also had two blocks.

Let's take a look at Coach DiLeo's rotations. First, the spreadsheet, then a little analysis.

Three things I think deserve mention. The first is DiLeo's reliance on Ratliff. When Sammy came out with 2 fouls early, he put Theo in and he did a really good job anchoring the defense. I realize Speights is the future of this team, but DiLeo is doing a very good job of leaving hot units on the floor when they're producing. In the first, Ratliff's D helped erase a huge rebounding deficit (which was partially his fault, admittedly). In the third, Ratliff was a key part of an 11-0 run that turned the game around when it seemed to be getting away from them.

Second, DiLeo got Rush some burn tonight, and he did pretty well with it. He still looks like he's in slow motion, he still doesn't play a ton of D, but he drained a couple threes on plays where the defense broke down for the Wizards. Having a guy out there, even if it's just for 10 minutes a game, who can make teams pay for doubling the wrong guy is a huge advantage.

Third, Check out the subs in the last two minutes. DiLeo went offense/defense with Speights and Dalembert down the stretch. I love it. I also love the money-time lineup of Speights, Thad, Iggy, Lou and Miller. That's the best possible lineup you can put on the floor right now with one huge caveat. They have to rebound the ball.

Finally, let's take a look at who got minutes at what position, and their +/- while at the position.

One thing jumps out at me right away. Andre Iguodala didn't play a second at any position other than small forward. I'm not completely sure how I feel about this. Are they giving up on Iggy at shooting guard completely? What does this mean going forward? Am I reading too much into it?

Otherwise, from watching the game I thought Lou at the 2 and Miller at the 1 was working. Offensively, it was. Unfortunately, on defense they couldn't buy a stop and when they did, the Wiz were grabbing the offensive rebounds. Still, I think this number is misleading. Lou at the two seems like the best lineup they can throw out there. 19 minutes is about 5 too many for Willie at this point.

Player of The Game: Loooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuu.
Team Record: 12-14
Up Next: Indiana, tomorrow night at the Wach.
by Brian on Dec 20 2008
Tags: Basketball | Lou Williams | Marreese Speights | Sixers | Wizards |