OK, so the headline is overboard, but there's a tiny bit of logic to it as well. The Sixers came out on fire and dominated the first 7 minutes of the game. Then, with 5:13 left in the first quarter, Thad picked up his second foul. This sent him to the bench and guess who got the nod from Mo. That's right, Willie Green. Why, you ask? Well, your guess is as good as mine.
From that point on, Willie played a total of 20 minutes, and while his stat line was actually very good for him (only 1/5 from the floor, 4 boards, 1 assist, 1 steal, 3 blocks and only 1 turnover), his phantom defense and inept offense dragged down the whole team. Here's the money stat: with Green on the floor, the Sixers were -14, with Green on the bench they were +3.
Thad compounded the Willie damage when he quickly picked up his third foul in the second quarter.
Obviously, there's plenty of blame to go around, and we'll get to that after the jump, but I kept track of Willie because, well, I was shocked to see him as the first guy off the bench and doubly shocked to see him play so many minutes.
Now that I've gotten my Willie fury out of the way, let's take a look at everything that went wrong, and a few things that went right.
Before we go any further, Marreese Speights needs to be activated as soon as possible. When the Sixers want to go small, the lineup has to be Miller, Iguodala, Thad, Speights and Brand. Forget about Reggie Evans in the fourth quarter, you need five guys who can score, rebound and run.
Back to the game: Brand was aggressive, but sloppy. He owned the boards with 13 but shot only 5/14 from the field and turned the ball over 4 times. On the positive side, I saw some leadership out on the floor from Brand. On one break he hit Dalembert as the trailer at the top of the key, when Sammy started to wind up to take the shot you could hear Brand yelling at him to pass instead. Sammy listened, and the Sixers converted on the possession. Last year, Sammy would've taken the bad shot and the Sixers would've just shaken their heads.
Since we're talking about Sammy, I don't know how to feel about his game tonight. On the one hand, if he's crashing the boards like this (17 board, 9 offensive) and blocking shots (2) can you really complain? On the other hand, his hands seem to have gotten worse in the offseason, if that's possible, and his fumbles were responsible for at least 5 turnovers, which counted against someone else. You can't have that. He also shot only 3/9 from the floor, unacceptable.
Sammy and Brand weren't the only guys who were cold from the floor, though. Iguodala (5/17), Miller (6/16) and Lou Williams (5/15) all stunk up the joint as well.
If you're looking for a concise sentence to sum up why the Sixers lost, here it is: They couldn't shoot the three (5/20), they couldn't defend the three (10/16), they couldn't force turnovers (9) and they turned the ball over too much (17). The three-point shooting woes, on both sides of the ball, are nothing new. The turnovers, however, are new. They were one of the best teams in the league at taking care of the ball last season, and they forced the second-most turnovers, I believe. I'm hoping this was just a hiccup.
One thing worth noting, and also something to keep a close eye on is Mo's usage of his roster. Tonight, the Sixers had 72 minutes of action from their bench, a whopping 57 went to Lou Williams, Willie Green and Reggie Evans. His guys from last year. Kareem Rush, Donyell Marshall and Theo Ratliff each played only 5 minutes. One more criticism of Mo, and then I'm done. When the Sixers started their game it was a big lineup vs. a big lineup. They built up a lead. When the Raptors went to a small, perimeter lineup, Mo adjusted as well. I think that was the wrong move. You have the lead, they can't stop your big lineup with theirs, stick with your bigs and punish them until they adjust. You aren't trying to catch up.
I understand the logic. That particular Raptors lineup can really shoot the three and spread the floor, so Mo wanted to go small to make sure to keep a body on the shooters. The problem is, for the Sixers smaller doesn't neccessarily mean quicker, or better defensively. I'd much prefer Thad to Willie Green on anyone. In fact, a couple of times during the game Thad was matched up on Calderon in man-to-man and he did a great job (drawing a charge on one occasion).
Overall, this was obviously a disappointing way to start the season, but I highly doubt we're going to see this team shoot 34.5% from the floor very often. It was an off night against a very good team. Now you have to regroup and get ready for the Knicks on Friday night.
Player of The Game: I really don't know. I would say Dalembert, but he dropped so many passes and fumbled so many balls. I guess I'll go with Brand for a strong double-double, but we need more than this from him.
Team Record: 0-1
One more high note to leave you on: The Sixers won the battle of the boards 56-33. How you own the glass like that and still lose by double digits is still unclear.