Is "dominate" a strong enough verb to encapsulate the 112-69 thrashing
the Sixers doled out to the Bucks tonight? Probably not, but let's run with it.
In a surprise move, Mo Cheeks started Jason Smith at the PF, and it paid dividends. The rook, who gave an interview to InsideHoops.com
that you should definitely check out, finished the game with an absolutely horrible, Reggie Evans-esque line (0-4 from the floor, 1 point, 5 rebounds), but his hustle and just the threat of some kind of offense from that position opened things up for the rest of the team. For the first time in seemingly months, the Sixers didn't fall behind early. In fact, they built a double-digit lead early on and cruised to the easy victory.
The Bucks were playing their 7th game in 10 days, and they were without Michael Redd and Desmond Mason, but still 43 points? This game wasn't purely a result of a tired and under-manned Bucks squad, the Sixers played probably their best game of the year. On offense, they cut down their dribbling dramatically. The first half looked like a clinic on ball movement, with crisp passes flying around the perimeter and leading to open looks on the inside when the Bucks D was slow to rotate.
I've decided to follow a couple of key trends every game for the rest of the season. I thought tracking the three-point defense was a worthwhile exercise, so coming into this game I was looking at two things: How the Sixers fared when Iguodala was at the 2 and Thad was at the 3, and turnovers.
Let's look at the second stat first:
|T.O.'s by Quarter|
Obviously, I was hoping for something telling to come from tracking these stats, like why they turn the ball over so much. Tonight was just a horrible example. They really took care of the ball, even in garbage time. Gordan Giricek had two of these turnovers in about 30 seconds of action in the fourth with the Sixers up by about 45, so their performance was actually better than these great numbers.
The second trend I took a look at had a specific purpose. First of all, this is the starting lineup of the future, if all goes according to plan. I want to see the tangible results when it happens. Second, on the RealGM
Sixers board last week there was a thread about getting rid of Iguodala in the offseason because he "isn't good at playing the 2." Needless to say, I disagree with this assessment, so I'm going to keep track of the team and Iguodala's performance when he's put in this situation for a while.
Tonight, we saw Iguodala at the 2 for two short stretches, at the end of the 2nd and late in the third. In about five minutes he took one shot, hit it, and had an assist. Nothing spectacular. The team, however, outscored the Bucks 16-3 in those five or so minutes. While he only had one assist, he had a couple nice passes that led to free throws for Reggie Evans (which he obviously missed).
Again, tonight's game is probably not the best example for either stat, but I nevertheless, I was encouraged by the team's play with this lineup. Hopefully we'll get a better sampling in the coming games.
Thad Young stuffed the stat sheet in his 26 minutes, finishing with 14 points and a handful of downright pretty moves around the hoop. He also had 8 boards and three assists. Giricek hit the first three-pointed of the year, good for you Giro.Player of The Game
: Andre Iguodala, 18 points, 6 boards, 5 assists, 2 blocks, 2 stealsTeam Record
: 18-28 (1.5 games out of the 8 spot)Head-Scratcher of the Night
: Reggie Evans, 3/13 from the foul line. One last thing, Reggie Evans played 17 minutes tonight in an energy/muscle role off the bench. That's a perfect role for him. Whether it's Young or Smith starting at the PF, keep Evans limited to that role and he will contribute without killing the team on offense.