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Sixers Still Firmly On the Schneid

If this was a potential playoff season for the Sixers, this is the type of game I'd look back on when they fell one game short. I'm not sure snake-bitten is a strong enough adjective to describe these players, this roster, this franchise. Cursed? Would that be more apt? A heavily-contested Cartier Martin three with 0.4 seconds left in regulation to send it to overtime. Unbelievable.

This game was gutwrenching. I mean, it could've and should've gone so many different ways:

  • The Sixers should've blown Washington's doors off. They were up by 14 points early in the first quarter and Jrue was giving Wall the business. But then Lou picked up his second foul and Lou Williams came in, seemingly bound and determined to singlehandedly cough up the lead. Mission accomplished.
  • The Wizards should've won this game by 20 points. In the third quarter, the Sixers turned the ball over 10 times (Jrue and Iguodala were especially loose with the ball). Washington capitalized and pushed their lead into double digits.
  • The Sixers should've won a close game, closing out at the line. Lou Williams scored 20 points in the fourth quarter, and Even Turner came to life with 9 points of his own. Lou shot 10/10 from the line in the fourth, pushing the lead back up to three on several occasions. The Sixers forced Cartier Martin into an extremely difficult three with less than a second left in regulation. That ball should not have gone in. This should've been a three-point win. But it did, and it wasn't.
  • The Sixers should've put this game away fairly early in overtime. With 3:15 to go, Andre Iguodala got a steal in the lane, took the ball coast-to-coast and was fouled attempting a dunk. He made one free throw, the first points scored in overtime. On the very next play, Elton Brand knocked the ball away from Andray Blatche in the post. Iguodala read the play and took off, way ahead of his man, on the wing. Evan Turner got the ball in the middle of the floor, with three Washington defenders standing right in front of him. If he gets the ball ahead to Iguodala, it's a dunk. Pure and simple. The Sixers have a three-point lead and all the momentum in the world. Instead, Turner dribbled right into the three defenders, turned the ball over, Wall was fouled, and hit both free throws. You can't afford 4-point swings in overtime. The Sixers basically fought an uphill battle the rest of the way and couldn't convert on their last possession.

I'm not sure what positives you can take away from this one. Washington is a horrible, horrible team. A horrible team that scored at will on the Sixers and basically did whatever they want on the offensive end. If the Sixers perimeter players weren't forcing turnovers, Washington was getting a high percentage shot, or getting fouled. When the Sixers strung together a couple turnovers, they went on a run. When they didn't, Washington went on a run. You can't win like that in the NBA. Your only chance on defense simply cannot be turning the opponent over. Not every team is going to have a talented, rambunctious point guard willing to cough it up 8 times.

I thought the Sixers ran some deadly efficient offense in the first quarter, with the first unit in the game. They were attacking mismatches, hustling down the floor, getting position on the blocks, and converting on those opportunities. Jrue was all over the place prior to picking up his second foul. In the fourth quarter, the offense turned to more of a one-on-one game while Lou was lighting up the scoreboard, then settled when Jrue got back into the swing of things. Offense was not the problem tonight, however.

The individual performances don't really matter to me that much in this one. Jrue and Lou both somehow mixed horrible performances with excellent play. Iguodala didn't play a big enough role. Turner woke up for a stretch in the fourth, was basically invisible the rest of the game. Hawes continues to be a waste of oxygen. Nocioni seems to have reverted to the player he's been for the past couple of seasons, which shouldn't be a shock and will kill this team. Elton Brand was very, very good. And Brand was good for the entire game, which can't be said about anyone else on the team.

Iguodala is taking some heat for the Cartier three as well as the 15-footer he missed at the end of overtime. Basically, we're talking about two extremely low percentage attempts. I'd say the shot Cartier took had maybe a 5%-15% chance of going in, if that. He was off balance, it was a tightly contested shot, it may have even been a foul. It just dropped. There's nothing you can do about that. On the final play, Collins drew it up for Lou Williams (to no one's surprise), Lou got cut off in the lane and he found Iguodala with two seconds on the clock. Iguodala had no time to make a move, it was one dribble and a contested jumper from the elbow. Probably a 20% to 30% shot at the outside. It didn't fall, simple as that. This wasn't Iguodala trying to "be the man" whatever that means. It wasn't Iguodala going off script. It was Iguodala getting the ball in an impossible situation, getting a tough shot off, and missing it. The bigger question, for me, is why the hell wasn't Evan Turner on the floor for that shot. Tony Battie wasn't playing any kind of role on the floor. Get Turner out there, make Washington account for more guys, spread the floor a little bit and maybe Lou has some room to work. Or maybe Turner gets the pass from Lou on the baseline for a better look. Any way you slice it, Turner needs to be on the floor for that possession.

Here's your rotation chart followed by the four factors. Pay close attention to two numbers. The DFR (Washington was last in the league at 95 and change coming into this game), and the FTF. Just horrid numbers in both cases.

g4fourf110210.gif Player of The Game: Elton Brand (21 points on 11 shots, 9 boards, 3 assists, 4 steals, 1 block, 3 turnovers and 6 fouls [the last of which was complete BS] in 42 hard-fought minutes).
Team Record: 0-4
Up Next: Indy at home, tomorrow night.