At this time of year, 24 minutes of effort and desire is never, ever going to cut it. Not when you have pipe dreams of finishing with the #5 seed. The Sixers really shouldn't be patting themselves on the back for almost coming back from 20 down tonight, they should be embarrassed that they fell that far behind in such an important game.
Well, my anger has subsided greatly after watching Dwyane Wade single-handedly give the Miami game to New Orleans. You can forget about the #4 seed, Atlanta beat Toronto tonight, but the Sixers are still very much alive for the #5 seed. Although it doesn't really look like they want it.
OK, back to tonight's game. The first half was an epic disaster. No other way to say it. The Sixers showed no life, no game plan, no execution. Honestly, they looked like they were happy with their 40 wins and they'll just take them into the playoffs. The only player who showed me anything in the first half was Lou. He kept the team afloat for the entire second quarter, and by afloat, I mean he was keeping them within 20.
I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about the second half, so before we move on, let's take a look at the rotations.
OK, now I tried to keep track of Andre Miller's defensive troubles throughout the game. I came up with three examples. Early in the first, he had Felton, Willie was on Radmanovic in the post. He moved around to front him, Felton immediately dribbled Miller into a Vlad screen, Willie was caught up top, Miller didn't fight over and it was an uncontested layup before the weak side help could react. Miller's fault? Probably. The other two I noticed were identical plays in the second half. On both occassions, Miller was on Augustin, he sucked down into the lane to help, and the Bobcats quickly set a screen on him, leaving Augustin wide open for threes. Miraculously, he missed both, but Miller shouldn't have been that far away from a shooter.
Willie Green was unbelievable in the third quarter. He left the game to get stitches with 4:28 left in the first quarter and didn't return until the third. He came back with a vengence, though. I have never seen Willie Green play basketball like he did in that third quarter. It wasn't just the three threes, it was tenacious defense, hustling after rebounds, making the right decision with the ball. If that Willie...nevermind. It'll probably never happen again.
Anyway, yes the second half comeback was fun to watch, but in the end, a loss is a loss. The Sixers had this game won and they couldn't get the stops or the hoops when they needed them down the stretch. They were underdogs coming in because Vegas knows more about the Sixers than I do, apparently. I will say that I was impressed with Speights' play down the stretch.
One rotational move that I'll never fully understand. When DiLeo was going offense/defense in the final minute, he went with Greeen over Ivey. I just don't understand that. Ivey is clearly a superior defender. It doesn't compute.
Player of The Game: Willie
Team Record: 40-37
Up Next: @ Chicago on Thursday night on TNT.
One more quick thought. Late in the fourth quarter, Andre Iguodala spotted a gross mismatch with Augustin on Miller on the opposite side of the floor. He took the ball from Williams on the wing, dribbled over and got the ball to Miller. He scored. The next time down the floor, they used a pick to get Augustin on Iguodala. He scored, easily. The next time down the floor, Augustin was on Miller again, but they didn't go to him. In fact, they never attacked that mismatch again, even though it was there. I don't get it. Why not ride that until LB is forced to make an adjustment?