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It's All Downhill From Here

Congrats on your first win, Tony. (ap)
Soak it in, Coach DiLeo. For the next 3 days or so, you are an undefeated coach in the NBA.

Yes, in his debut on the Sixers' bench, Tony DiLeo led the Sixers to a demonstrative win over the Washington Wizards. A cream puff match-up if there ever was one, but still, a win is a win, especially when you only have 10 of them.

Before we crown DiLeo, let's be clear why they won this game. I see three key factors:
  1. Elton Brand was a beast.
  2. Sammy owned the boards.
  3. The Wizards suck.
The order may be a little off there, but those are the three key points. In the wake of a couple of stories (and comments on this blog) suggesting that signing EB was a bad move, he went out and dominated. He was physical, he had his legs back under him and he was effficient. The only thing he didn't do well was shoot from the line.

If only Sammy could play like he did tonight on a nightly basis. In 33 minutes of work he pulled down 17 boards and only attemped 3 shots. Andre Miller also had a spectacular game. 38 minutes of work, only 4 shots taken, 12 assists, 4 boards and only 2 turnovers. I firmly believe that if the other guys on the team continue to knock down shots, we're going to see plenty of games like this from Andre.

As for the rest of the starters, well, Iguodala had a non-descript productive game. Willie Green was, well, he was what we'll call good for Willie. He got hot for a couple of stretches and shot a very nice 5/10 from the floor. The only problem: During his 25 minutes on the floor, he didn't grab a single rebound, dish out a single assist, cause a single steal or block a single shot. Was it Larry Brown that said something like, "You can get a couple of assists by accident?" Well, not if your name is Willie Green.

Finally, let's get into the meat of DiLeo's premiere, the rotation. He had about 15 minutes to prepare for the game, so you couldn't really expect him to make any philosophical changes, but it doesn't really take a whole lot of preparation to figure out your subs, even less to make a change to the starting lineup.

I was extremely disappointed to see Green in the starting lineup, I was hoping DiLeo would turn the page on that chapter of the 76ers history immediately, but no such luck.

Let's take a look at the rotations Tony used tonight, and how successful they were. Analysis below:

sixvwizrotations.jpg
The starting lineup was extremely effective, and DiLeo allowed them to stay on the court together in the first and the fourth to put together runs. They finished the game with almost 15 minutes of play and a +/- of +16.

He used a nine-man rotation, here are the minute breakdowns:

  • Brand - 38
  • Miller - 38
  • Iguodala - 36
  • Dalembert - 33
  • Thad - 29
  • Willie - 25
  • Lou - 25
  • Speights - 11
  • Evans - 5
He leaned on his veterans, and they didn't let him down. One thing I liked, in particular, was how he closed out the game. With 4:07 left in the third he sat Brand down. That gave him 4 minutes of game time, plus the 2-minute TV break, plus the quarter break. Then, he didn't let the scrubs start the fourth, he put EB back in. With him in there, the offense had a focal point and if the Wizards went on a run the Sixers had a legitimate option to stop it. Brand wouldn't need another rest.

Going forward, the biggest adjustment I'd like to see him make is to increase Speights' minutes. They can come at the expense of either Dalembert or Green. Marreese had 8 points in his 11 minutes tonight.

If the ship is truly going to be righted, this game needs to be the beginning of a 4-game streak. They play Washington again, Indiana and Milwaukee before a killer road trip. They need to go into that trip 13-14.

Player of The Game: EB. 12/19 from the floor for 27 points and 9 boards.
Team Record: 10-14
Up Next: Milwaukee on Wednesday.

by Brian on Dec 13 2008
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