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Starters Set the Tone

Eddie Jordan's new starting lineup only played 11:07 together in tonight's game against Indiana, but in those 11+ minutes they outscored the Pacers 24-15, after the jump we'll take a look at how they dominated, with a few words about the rest of the game as well.

There's a simple answer to why the starters were so dominant. They defended. Take a look at these numbers:

  • 22 possessions for Indiana
  • 15 points (a defensive efficiency rating of 68.18)
  • Indiana shot 5/12 from the floor, 41.67%
  • The Sixers forced 8 turnovers (TOV rate = 34.8%)
  • The Sixers grabbed 8 of a possible 8 defensive rebounds. (100% defensive rebounding rate).

This is the type of defensive basketball I've been dreaming about. Solid fundamentally with spectacular plays translating into transition points on the other end to boost the offensive efficiency. The sad thing is that we were cheated out of maybe five more minutes of action for this unit when Jrue broke his head open diving for a ball he had knocked away from Earl Watson in the first quarter. Jrue received 12 stitches to his noggin and returned to the bench before the first half was over. He was back on the floor for his second (and final) stretch to start the second half.

If you're wondering why I've spent so much time talking about less than a quarter of the game, it's because those 11 minutes were really the only inspired basketball the Sixers played. The myriad small lineups Jordan trotted out there for the other 37 minutes accumulated a defensive rating of 107.89, which is below average. They did score the ball as efficiently as the starts, though. Both had an offensive efficiency rating of 109.

Here's a look at your rotation chart:

I realize it's unpopular to bash a coach when his team wins, but did Willie Green seriously need to play the final 17 minutes of the game? Was he doing that good of a job out there that you couldn't afford to put Jrue back in the game? Sam played a grand total of 6:23 in the second half and was limited to 21 minutes for the second consecutive game. In those 21 minutes he grabbed 12 boards, blocked 2 shots and added 4 steals for good measure. Speights played more minutes than Sam in the second half.

Anyway, Thad backed up his 22-point game with 20 on 16 shots and an astounding 10 rebounds in only 26 minutes of work. He reminded me of rookie Thad out there, and that's definitely a good thing when we're talking about him.

When the Sixers did get forced into the half-court game, things ran through Elton Brand. Sounds like a pretty simple idea, you have a big guy who can score a number of different ways and is drawing double teams, so you run the offense through him. Simple, but tonight was maybe the second or third time we've seen it all season, and it was the first time we've seen it as a game plan heading in. His numbers were good, but not great. 23 points, 8 boards and 4 assists in 37 minutes, but he needed 21 shots to score his 23 points. You'd like him to be more efficient, but the key here is the 4 assists (which led the team). Teams are going to start doubling him if he keeps affecting games like this in the half-court, if he's willing and able to kick it out to open shooters (and they're able to hit a decent percentage of those open shots), the Sixers will no longer be a laughingstock when they get slowed down.

Andre Iguodala had one of his worst stat lines of the season, only 9 points on 9 shots, 7 boards and 4 assists, but he hounded Danny Granger into 7 turnovers, including three offensive fouls. Another example of how he can change a game without scoring 20+ points. Maybe the fans in Houston would appreciate efforts like the one he gave tonight.

Player of The Game: Thad. It probably should've been Brand, but I can't ignore Thad's 10 boards off the bench.
Team Record: 15-28
Up Next: Indy again on Monday night.