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Elton and three Jazz in the paint. A common theme. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
OK, I'm running out of excuses. As the Sixers walked off the court to a chorus of boos I was left thinking, "Can you really blame the fans?" I can't, not tonight.

I'm going to get all of the finger pointing out of the way right now, then after the jump we'll take a closer look at some patterns throughout the game and see if we can't figure this mess out.

Here are my blame bullets, in my order of importance. Worst to least:
  • The Sixers play their best quarter of the season in the third, outscore the Jazz 30-14, and take control of this game. Mo decides to run with Willie and Lou in the backcourt to start the third. 6 minutes later, Willie is still in the game, the Jazz have gone on a 13-2 run, and the game is over. Why, for the love of God, was Willie in the game? He's done nothing but torpedo this team with his piss poor defense and horrible offense. His offense has gotten so bad no one will pass him the ball anymore. They basically play one on four when he's out there. Lou has been miserable as well. It was obvious very quickly that those two were killing the team, if Mo needed to rest the Andres, why not go with Ivey and Rush in the back court for a couple of minutes? They couldn't have done any worse.
  • When the Andres finally did get back into the game, Iguodala made two lazy plays that resulted in points for the Jazz. Once, the ball went off a Jazz player's leg and trickled into the back court. Iguodala didn't run after it, assuming a kick would be called. No whistle, dunk on the other end. The second time, EB knocked the ball away from Milsap, it rolled right by Iguodala and Dalembert, neither guy bent over to pick it up. Boozer scored on the inbounds play. Two possessions, pissed away. You can't do that down the stretch, if ever.
  • Only 4 steals. This team thrived on steals last year, now they can't buy one. What happened?
  • Take away the brilliant third quarter and they had 15 turnovers in three quarters of work. It's amazing they were able to claim the lead at all, and no shock that they coughed it up.
  • Miller led the team in FGA, again. Not his fault, he was on tonight, but a trend that cannot continue if this team is going to succeed.
Much more after the jump.

In light of the Sixers newfound dedication to spacing, and also as a response to Iguodala's sluggish start, I kept track of two things throughout the game tonight. Elton's touches in the post and Iguodala's shots. For the former I tracked how they spaced the floor, and the end result. For the latter, I tracked the type of shot, whether I thought it was a good shot within the offense and the result.

First, a high-level look:

  • 1st half
    • Brand gets the ball in the post 2 times
    • Iguodala gets 11 looks at the hoop (including fouls in the act and turnovers on the way to the hoop)
    • The Sixers lose the half 49-37
  • 3rd quarter
    • Brand gets the ball in the post 7 times
    • Iguodala gets 4 looks at the hoop
    • The Sixers win the quarter 30-14
  • 4th quarter
    • Brand gets the ball in the post 4 times
    • Iguodala gets 4 looks at the hoop
    • The Sixers lose the quarter 30-13

That first half is pretty telling. It seems to me, despite the lip service they paid to the Inquirer, the Sixers were intent on getting Iguodala on track. Bad decision. Forcing things to run through him is a great way to keep him mired in the slump he's in. Fixing the offense as a whole will accomplish the job in a much quicker, effective way.

The third quarter numbers are decieving. Yes, the Sixers showed a commitment to feeding Brand in the post, but they did a horrendous job of spreading the floor as you'll see below.

Here's the breakdown of the 13 times EB got the ball in the post, how the rest of the team spaced the floor, and the end result:

  • 1st quarter
    • High post, good spacing, available outlet - Missed jumper (good shot)
    • Low post, bad spacing (clogged lane) - Made fall-away jumper (tough shot, converted)
  • 2nd quarter
    • No low post attempts
  • 3rd quarter
    • Low post, good spacing, available outlet - Made baby jumper (good shot)
    • Low post, bad spacing (no outlet) - Missed jumper (forced shot)
    • Low post, bad spacing (no outlet) - No shot taken, turnover after ball was finally kicked out.
    • Low post, bad spacing (no outlet) - Ball outletted to middle of floor, then jumper is missed by A. Miller.
    • High post, good spacing - Give and go with Miller for an easy layup. Pretty play.
    • Low post, bad spacing (no outlet) - EB turnover
    • High post, bad spacing (clogged lane) - Missed baby jumper (forced shot)
  • 4th quarter
    • High post, bad spacing (no outlet) - EB tied up, jump ball.
    • Low post, bad spacing (no outlet) - Missed jumper, offensive rebound was converted.
    • Low post, bad spacing (no outlet) - Missed jumper (forced)
    • High post, bad spacing (clogged lane) - Blocked shot, forced.
I realize EB's numbers have been down so far, his offensive numbers, at least, but look at what's going on with this team when he gets the ball. They fed him in the post 13 times total, 7 of those times he didn't have anyone on the strong side to pass to, 3 times the lane was clogged up because guys were hanging around the basket. Only three times did they have an available outlet for him and proper spacing. The problem here is that the team, collectively, thinks that when he gets the ball the set is over. They expect him to take the shot. When teams double, they don't adjust, they don't help him out.

The three times they actually spaced the floor well turned into two made shots. One on a give and go when Miller's man left to double and they executed the give-and-go. The other make came when there was no one close enough to Brand to quickly double and he overpowered Millsap. The only time Brand was able to get the ball out of the double, Miller missed a contested jumper from the elbow on the opposite side of the floor.

The Sixers are getting absolutely nothing out of the double teams Brand is drawing, and it is by no means due to a lack of outside shooting. This, more than anything else, is going to submarine this season if they don't figure it out quickly.

Before we get into Iguodala's looks, I want to say this was not an overall bad game from Andre. He shot the ball better, I thought he made good decisions and didn't force too many shots. He had two lazy plays in the fourth, but if he turns in an effort like this every night, this team can and will win a ton of games. You can't put this one on him.

  • 1st quarter
    • In the post - Travel. (good play, bad result)
    • Alley oop - Pass broken up (good play, bad result)
    • Catch and shoot off curl - Make (good play, good result)
    • Isolation, three-pointer - Missed (bad shot)
    • Hook shot in the lane - Missed (desperation shot, got the ball with 1 second left on the shot clock)
    • Drive to the hoop - Fouled in the act (good move, good result)
  • 2nd quarter
    • Jumper off dribble - Missed (bad shot)
    • In the post - Blocked (good play, bad result)
    • Putback - Make
    • Drive to the hoop - Missed (good play, bad finish)
    • Drive to the hoop - Turnover (bad play, forced)
  • 3rd quarter
    • Drive to the hoop - Fouled in the act (good play, good result)
    • Catch and shoot three-pointer - Make (good play, good result)
    • Jumper off the dribble - Make (good play, in rhythm, good result)
    • Drive to the hoop - Turnover (good play, better defensive play)
  • 4th quarter
    • Jumper off the dribble - Make (bad play, good result)
    • Drive to the hoop - Fouled in the act (good play, good result)
    • Jumper off the dribble - Missed (forced, bad shot)
Andre finished 5/11 from the floor for 15 points with 10 boards, 5 assists, 2 steals and a block. His 4 turnovers were too high, and he took maybe one or two more ill-advised shots than I'd like to see, but he's making progress, or at least getting back to where he was last season. Like I said, you can't hang this one on him.

Thad had a bad night shooting the ball (3/15 FGA, 0/2 3PA), but did everything he could to make up for it elsewhere. He grabbed 11 boards, 5 offensive, and dished out 4 assists.

I mentioned earlier that EB's offensive game hasn't been where it should be, but tonight he showed why he was worth every penny of that contract. The third quarter run was fueled by the Sixers defense, and Brand led that charge. He finished the night with 6 blocks, I believe 4 of them came in the third. He was a one-man wrecking crew and his defense ignited the team.

It's hard to take away positives from yet another home loss, so I'll leave you with this stat to hold you over. The Sixers were +12 in EB's 34 minutes of action, -18 in Willie Green's 12.

Player of The Game: Andre Miller. A solid game, and consistent scoring when they needed it in a variety of ways. He finished with 25 points, 6 assists and only 1 turnover.
Team Record: 2-5
Up Next: Tomorrow night @ Toronto. Good, get the bad taste out of your mouth right away (hopefully).
by Brian on Nov 11 2008
Tags: Another loss | Basketball | Jazz | Sixers |