It's always amazing to see a team go from pitiful to world-beating in the span of a quarter. It's downright heartbreaking to see them go right back to pitiful and hand a game to an unworthy opponent. For your own mental stability, when you remember this game, remember the second and third quarters, just forget the rest.
Let's start with the charts, I don't think any explanation is really needed:
There are really only two numbers you need to look at in the advanced stats above to get the picture, opponents FTF and defensive rebounding rate. Both of those, for the most part, are a direct result of having Spencer Hawes and Marreese Speights as the only legitimate centers on your roster.
It would be too draining to focus on the negatives from this one. I'll simply say, they came out flat, Doug Collins tried every button he could think of, playing all 12 players available to him in the first 16 minutes of the game. When he finally found a button that worked, he stuck with it. He was able to recognize the cohesive play and didn't mess with it. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to recognize what was killing the team in the fourth quarter (Lou Williams, on both ends of the floor), and he never addressed it.
Anyway, that's enough negative. If the Sixers win this game, every story is about the game Jrue Holiday had, so that's where I'm going to start. A career-high 29 points (10/17 FG, 3/5 3P, 6/8 FT), 2 boards, 8 assists, 2 steals, 1 block and 0 turnovers in 39 minutes. The numbers don't even begin to tell you how good he was over the 20-minute stretch when the Sixers turned a 16-point deficit into an 8-point lead.
The great news here, is this wasn't his first good game, this was the third and to me, it's just a continuation of the progress he showed in summer league and toward the end of the preseason. Take a look at Jrue's splits, first three games vs. last three:
- 85 minutes
- 11/34 from the floor (32.4%)
- 3/7 from three (43%)
- 1/2 from the line (50%)
- 9 rebounds
- 9 assists
- 6 steals
- 1 block
- 7 turnovers
- 26 points
8.7 points, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2.3 turnovers per game.
- 115 minutes
- 20/36 from the floor (55.6%)
- 3/9 from three (33%, the only drop in his game)
- 11/13 from the line (84.6%)
- 9 boards
- 26 assists
- 7 steals
- 1 block
- 6 turnovers
- 54 points
18 points, 8.7 assists, 2.3 steals and 2 turnovers per game. 4.3 assists/turnover.
That's big production from our 20-year-old PG, and the best news of all is this huge bump in from Jrue coincides with him playing more and more minutes alongside Evan Turner.
You know what? Tomorrow's an off day, let's just wrap it up with a couple more positive things and then kick off our weekend on the right note:
Player of The Game:
- Nocioni played very well during the team's big run, mainly because he was content to be a peripheral player. He was running the floor and spotting up for threes. He was crashing the boards (albeit not very effectively) and getting his hands on loose balls. He wasn't using his dribble, he wasn't hacking away on defense. He was just out there, floating, giving Jrue and Iguodala an option in transition and off their drives. Unfortunately, he and Iguodala both went down with injuries and will get MRIs tomorrow. I don't even want to think about Iguodala's achilles until we hear about the MRI.
- Tony Battie was a complete stud in this game and if he isn't starting on Sunday, Doug Collins has a screw loose. Spencer Hawes was -18 in 6 minutes tonight. It's pretty damned hard to allow 18 points in 16 minutes, let alone lose by 18 points. Battie has earned it and Collins is going to lose credibility if Hawes doesn't lose his starting job with the type of effort he's been putting out. In fact, if this was a just world, Hawes would be wearing a suit and Craig Brackins would take his spot on the active roster on Sunday.
- OK, one more negative. Doug Collins absolutely has to recognize the damage Lou is doing sooner. He has a quick hook with Jrue when he makes mistakes, he needs to do the same with Lou, because when Lou gets in a funk on the offensive end, he carries it over to the defensive end and the team really takes a nosedive. Think about it, on one end of the floor, you've got a guy dominating the ball while everyone else stands around. He's taking bad shots and turning the ball over. On the other end of the floor, you've got the guy on the ball acting like a turnstile and allowing the opposing PG to get right into the lane, to the point where everyone else has to cheat off their assignments to cover for him. For the most part, Lou has been very good this season, but tonight's fourth quarter was the second time that he was almost singlehandedly responsible for a 10-20 point swing in the wrong direction. You just can't leave him out there to let it get that bad. With an 8-point lead, I want Turner in the game for rebounding and defense.
- Elton Brand was a beast offensively, 8/12 for 20 points, but only 2 rebounds in 30 minutes? That's unacceptable and eerily reminiscent of so many lines he had last season. Varejao ate his lunch on the glass all night long, can't have that.
Jrue (with an honorable mention to Battie: 8 pts, 7 boards, 2 blocks)