The Sixers opened strong, then fell flat, then rallied before ultimately coming up just short (thanks to a few key errors in the final minute). Not an altogether unfamiliar story, unfortunately. Breaking this one down is actually pretty simple.
- If Dwight Howard shot his average from the free throw line, the Magic would've have four fewer points. The Sixers lost by four. See, I told you it was simple. (that's a joke, btw)
- Let's talk for a second about what the Sixers did well. (1) They executed their gameplan, for the most part. Howard only had one or two actual catches in the post that turned into makes, they hammered him and sent him to the line. He just hit his FTs, and there's literally nothing you can do about that. (2) They dominated the glass. 30.6% on the offensive glass and 83.3% on the defensive end. Huge, huge effort from the entire team. (3) Overall, their defense was pretty effective. Orlando was held a couple points below their season OFR. Obviously, the defense degraded as the game went along, but for the game, they were good. (4) They held Washington's former best player and the key to Orlando's deep postseason run, Gilbert Arenas, to 1/7 from the floor with 3 turnovers.
- And the bad...(1) The pick-and-roll defense in the fourth quarter was nothing short of pathetic. (2) Dwight Howard only sat for one stretch, and when he was on the bench, our second unit accomplished nothing. They didn't get the ball in the paint, they settled for jumpers, and their rotations were unbelievably sloppy on the defensive end. They actually lost ground.Talk about blowing an opportunity. (3) After a brief respite, Jrue's game disappeared again. I thought Collins had a really quick hook with Jrue in the second half, he was actually running the offense and finding guys, but one bad pass (that probably had more to do with Hawes having his head down than Jrue's pass) led to Collins giving Jrue the hook for a pivotal 8:32 stretch in the fourth. (4) Speaking of Collins, I still can't figure out why Hawes never got back in the game in the first half. The team was reeling and Hawes was extremely productive in his run at the beginning of the first. He even sent Hawes to the scorer's table at one point, only to call him back before play stopped and he could check in.
- Lou is your player of the game based solely on his
playscoring in the fourth quarter. His defense was atrocious throughout, and he really didn't contribute anything prior to the fourth, but in those final 12 minutes he scored 18 points and single-handedly kept the Sixers within striking distance. It probably should've been Iguodala, but the five turnovers left a sour taste in my mouth. Plus, the fans will probably blame the loss on Iguodala's late turnover, and who wants to be on the wrong side of the fans? That's not how you get to the top.
- Another big concern is Thad's sudden case of the yips. In the past two games he's fumbled at least six or seven passes. I mean, passes that hit him right in the hands and would've been easy finishes. I feel like he's been in a bit of a slump, but if you look at his game log, he's really only had a couple of bad games in his last five. I guess he was just such a huge factor for so long, I sort of came to expect his impact off the bench to the point where it's absence is a shock.
- @ Atlanta and home vs. the Magic, you really should've come into this back-to-back expecting two losses. A split is an accomplishment. Now they just need to split the next two.
Player of The Game: Lou. 9/15 for 23 points (18 in the fourth)
Team Record: 24-28
Up Next: vs. San Antonio, Friday night.