Utah put up a good fight to remain in playoff contention for most of the season, but they're definitely limping to the finish line right now. Losers of 12 of 15, the Jazz dropped another last night in Dallas while the Sixers were romping in Sacramento. It's one of my favorite days of the year, the day when I get to see the guy the Sixers should've drafted #2 a couple of years ago and wonder what might have been...
Utah's problems are focused on the perimeter. They've got two terrible players with the last name Williams playing almost 75 minutes/game and Randy Foye brings the total of terrible perimeter players up to over 100. The Jazz would be much better served to limit the damage those guys can do and play big with Favors at the four and Millsap at the three, a lineup they dominated with a year ago. Fortunately for the Lakers, the Jazz seem content to let Al Jefferson spiff up his resume for this summer's free agency bonanza (probably at the expense of the Sixers).
Jefferson is both a guy who has killed the Sixers in the past and a guy who should never, ever kill you. He's a volume shooting big man who never gets to the line and doesn't shoot all that well. The one thing Jefferson is exceptionally good at is not turning the ball over (how can Doug Collins possibly pass up the chance to give Jefferson a four-year deal?).
Here's the equation: Mo Williams couldn't guard me off the dribble. Al Jefferson can't spell defense. Attack them. Mercilessly. If Jrue doesn't score an efficient 25+ tonight, something went wrong.
Here's a fun look at the numbers. Exactly how bad has Evan Turner been? Here's a month-by-month look at his TS%: OCT-NOV: .535, DEC: .459, JAN: .499, FEB: .410, MAR: .447. For the year, he is now down to .476. For his career, he has now accumulated -1.4 offensive win shares. His career best in offensive win shares is 0.0 (Mr. Blutarski). If you care to make the argument that the Sixers need Turner on the floor for his epic defensive rebounding, well, his DRB is 18.4% now. Dorell Wright's is 18.1%. Turner is beyond irrelevant. If you've noticed recently, his teammates have stopped giving him the ball to initiate offense, especially in the back court. I've noticed it a handful of times in the past couple of games, once Jrue almost committed a backcourt violation when he started to throw a lateral pass on the wing, then realized it was Turner over there and instead threw a pass back to Thad. The problem isn't that things like that are happening, I'm not talking about a chemistry issue, the problem is that those things should be happening. This recent run has been more about negating Turner's negative impact (on both ends of the floor), than improved play by Hawes and/or Thad. Since Wilkins has been inserted into the starting lineup, (8 games. 4 wins, 4 losses), he's provided efficient scorer with low usage and moved Turner onto the third-best perimeter scorer on the opposite team. That's made a huge, huge difference for this team. Marginalizing Turner has been the best coaching move Collins has made all year. I can't wait until they extend him this summer.
The tip is at 9pm. This is your game thread. I'll be here throughout. Grind your teeth every time Turner touches the ball along with me, if you can't find anything better to do.