Tonight we're going to focus our entire wrap on perception vs. reality. If you missed the game, the Sixers blew a 13-point, third quarter lead and fell to the Raptors 108-106 to drop their record to a nice, round 10-25.
There are several misconceptions about the final score we should clear up first of all. The final score (108-106) would lead to believe neither team played a lick of defense, but that's not really the case. The defensive efficiency ratings for each team was actually better than their season averages (108 for the Raptors, their season number is 112, 110 for the Sixers, their season number is 111). So for the game, each team played merely terrible defense, not the atrocious defense we're used to seeing.
Now that last bit about how the defense wasn't atrocious is misleading as well. You see, the Sixers actually played a decent defensive half in the first, holding Toronto to 49 points. The 59-point second half is what really did them in, and that was a truly pitiful defensive effort. On the other side of the ball, the Sixers scorched the Raptors for 60 first-half points, but could only manage 46 in the third and fourth. If you're going to play one solid half of basketball, typically you'd like it to be the second half, but hey, one solid half is more than we usually get, so good for Eddie Jordan.
Here's another misconception. Thad Young's line of 18 points, 13 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals was a reversal of his downward trend over the past six games. The reality is Thad was pretty much a negative in every phase of the game but rebounding. His 18 points came on 24 shots, he turned the ball over five times, didn't go to the line once in 46 minutes of action, didn't commit a single foul (which is not a good thing), and had at least four of his shots blocked. This was kind of a bizarro Thad game, consider he's typically an efficient scorer and couldn't grab a board to save his life. It was definitely him out there and not an imposter, though. You could tell by how he lost his man on the defensive end time and time again.
Misconception number three is that Ed Stefanski's contrived anger in the form of a press conference had any effect whatsoever on his coach. If you missed it, watch the video here. Essentially, Stefanski talked about how defense was the biggest issue and he's had long conversations about this with Eddie Jordan. What he failed to address is why his head coach continually puts the Sixers at a tremendous disadvantage defensively when they desperately need a stop. Tonight, he had two opportunities to make offense for defense substitutions late in the game. The first time he went with a lineup of Allen Iverson, Lou Williams, Andre Iguodala, Thad Young and Sam Dalembert. The second time he subbed Rodney Carney in for Allen Iverson, but left Lou Williams in to guard the point. Neither sub had anything to do with the outcome of the game, but both where just horrible use of his available assets. Stefanski also spent a great deal of time talking about how the team had really addressed both their poor defense of the pick and roll and poor three-point defense. Well, the Sixers were helpless and really directionless against the P&R again, and in the second half the Raptors used the three to come back, and then eventually win the game.
One more note about Stefanski's presser, it's really meaningless. He didn't really say anything at all. He didn't give Jordan a ringing endorsement, but how could he? The team is 10-25, everyone is up in arms with what's become of this team. The fans and finally the press as well. He can only duck the press for so long before he looks like he's hiding. He can only selectively hand out quotes to sympathetic journalists once and twice before people start wondering if the guy has any clue at all. So he holds this press conference, says nothing specific accept he won't directly say that he won't fire Jordan before the end of the season and somehow that's supposed to reassure me? He didn't even say changes would be made if things didn't turn around. It was the most non-committal angry GM presser I've ever seen. Essentially, he said "I'm really mad, and we have to get better." He left out the "or else," though.
I'll start taking comments like these seriously when they're backed up by tangible words and/or actions. I guess I'm glad he realizes defense is the issue, and I'm hoping he realizes what the cause is, but I'm really no more confident today that he's going to ever do something about it than I was this time yesterday.
That's all I have for tonight. I'm completely torn, at this point, losses do more for this franchise than wins do, but it's still very hard to root for them. I will say this, I was completely unsurprised when the Sixers lost the game, and the manner in which they lost had almost no effect on me whatsoever. I can promise you that wouldn't have been the case at any time in the past three years. So thanks, Eddie Jordan, you're the best.
Player of The Game: Andre Iguodala. I assist shy of a triple double.
Team Record: 10-25
Up Next: @ Detroit, tomorrow night.