This was a game the Sixers really had to win. You can't lose to bad teams at home. It's heartening that they're
. It's good to see them string together about 5 minutes of quality basketball, on both sides of the floor, to close the game out and come away with the win. That's all great, but why the hell was it that close to begin with?
We saw about 17 minutes of quality basketball from the Sixers tonight against an unworthy opponent missing two of players from its regular rotation. That's unacceptable.
After the jump we'll break down the Clippers' horrible announcers, the final 6:31 of the game and also try to figure out what happened between the beginning of the second quarter and the end of the fourth.
I'm ashamed of myself on two fronts after watching this game. First, I had a couple of ideas for stats to track, but I was completely thrown off early by the Clippers' announcers, who spent the first quarter basically ripping Elton Brand to shreds. A handful of examples, all quotes:
- His left leg looks deformed, like it hasn't fully recovered from the Achilles injury.
- He's averaging career lows in points and, uh, shooting.
- I know for a fact that Elton has called guys on this Clippers team and said, "The grass isn't always greener."
- He has no lift.
- He does not look like the EB from 3 years ago.
- Even that wasn't vintage EB. (This after missing a layup, grabbing the offensive rebound and putting it back in)
- This is usually where you go to Brand, but he just isn't getting it done. (Followed immediately by Brand hitting a jumper from the baseline).
They weren't out of line with some of their statements, but it seemed like a total hatchet job to me. Honestly, they sounded like a couple of jilted lovers.
My second embarrassment was also due to the announcers. I spent the entire 16 minutes Speights was on the floor cringing and hoping he wouldn't get the ball. One announcers pronounced it "Spites" the other pronounced it "Sprites." At one point, they spelled out his first name letter-by-letter and talked about the correct pronunciation, but for some reason they couldn't figure out how to say his last name. They couldn't even get on the same page with their mispronunciations. It was wearing thin on me and Speights wasn't helping matters. He was all over the floor. His final line, 4/8 from the floor, 8 points, 6 boards (5 offensive) 1 block and 1 assist.
I was able to regain my composure with 6:31 to go and the Sixers down 83-75. Mo went with his Willie for Dalembert at this point and I wanted to see how they were going to attack the Clippers D in the half court down the stretch. Take a look at their possession-by-possession offensive production:
- Willie isolation - Made jumper + foul. (3 points)
- Willie three in transition - Miss (0 points)
- Iggy three, offensive rebound, Iggy drive, loses ball out of bounds - Turnover (0 points)
- Brand jumper in the lane - Miss (0 points)
- Miller jumper - Fouled, 1/2 from the line (1 point)
- Iggy layup - Fouled, 1/2 from the line (1 point)
- Iggy drive - Make + foul (3 points)
- Miller drive - Fouled, 1/2 from the line (1 point)
- Miller three with plenty of time left on the shot clock - MAKE???!!!???!?!?!?? (3 points)
- Brand jumper off Iguodala penetration - Make (2 points) Sixers take lead 89-88
- Brand jumper - Airball, horrible possession. (0 points)
11 possessions, 13 points in the final 6:31. 10 points in their final 6 possessions, including that miracle three by Miller. That was the first three I've seen Miller take in the offense, without the shot clock winding down, since he came to the Sixers. I was dumbfounded when he let it go. I don't know why he took it, I don't know how he made it, but thank God he did. What a huge shot.
While the offensive production was great, it was really the defense down the stretch that won this game. The Clippers scored only 5 points in the final 6:31 of the game, and Andre Iguodala made two huge plays on the Clippers final 2 possessions. First, he came from nowhere to block Eric Gordon's layup, then, on the final play of the game, he suffocated Baron Davis on the perimeter, forced him into an ill-advised shot, and sealed the game. Iguodala's shooting line wasn't good, again, he turned the ball over 5 times, which is unacceptable, but he finally made plays on both sides of the court which impacted the game. His final line: 14 points (5/12 from the floor), 6 boards, 12 assists, 4 steals, 1 block and 5 turnovers.
The Thad vs. Thornton battle was won by Thornton. He turned in a stellar game, showing off a ton of offensive moves, and good shot selection. I don't think he attempted a single three, and maybe only one jumper. He was attacking the hoop all night. Thad was a force in the first when the Sixers built an early 14-point lead, but as has been the case in most games this season, once Mo brings Willie in for Thad with 4 or 5 minutes to go in the first, he's an afterthought the rest of the way. I can't explain it, it makes no sense, but that's what happens. Thad goes for long stretches without touching the ball on offense, when he does get it, he stops driving to the hoop. He's an unstopable force in the first, then all we get out of him the rest of the way is one three in the second half. He finished with an impressive line, because he's awesome, but if properly used I think he'd score 25 a night without breaking a sweat, he's that good.
This game swung quickly at the start of the second when Lou Williams came in to run the point. A 12-point lead quickly turned into a deficit and Mo had to get his starting lineup back in there earlier than he wanted to. All momentum was lost, the Sixers played on their heels, their half-court offense stalled and their defense didn't get them out in transition. Things stayed that way no matter who was on the floor all the way until the end of the 4th. I'd love to explain it, maybe it's just a matter of that second group sucking the life out of the team. Maybe it's bad habits rubbing off. Whatever it is, Mo needs to find a solution. And the solution needs to start with Lou. If he can't run the point for that group, go with Ivey until he can.Player of The Game:
Warriors, Sunday at 5pm.