Let me start off by saying the first 24 minutes of this game were, by far, the worst display of offensive basketball I have ever seen from any Philadelphia 76ers team. The. Absolute. Worst. They had to get red hot at the end of the second quarter to tie a team record for fewest points in the first half of a game with 27. They trailed by 25 in the second quarter. Andre Iguodala had 6 turnovers in the first half. They went scoreless for a 9-minute stretch in the second quarter (0-15 from the floor). They looked absolutely pitiful.
Then Mo decided to go small, and go young. In the second half the Sixers shot 75% from the floor, they scored 65 points, they imposed their will on the Trail Blazers, they overcame two different 20-point deficits and they won the game, 92-88
. The first half had me ashamed to be a Sixers fan, the second half has me excited beyond words.
I'm sure the headlines tomorrow will lavish a ton of praise on Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala for their heroics on the offensive side of the ball, and rightly so, we'll get to them in a minute. First, I want to talk about the reason for the comeback in my eyes. It's the guy the Sixers took with the #12 pick in the first round of this year's draft, Thaddeus Young.
Young saw a career-high 19 minutes in the game, and while his final line (7 points, 5 rebound, 1 assist) was nothing to blow your socks off, his impact on the game was immeasurable. The Sixers got back in the game by pressuring the ball all the way up the court, trapping near the mid-court line, causing turnovers, running the floor for easy opportunities, spreading the floor on offense and moving without the ball on offense. Young was at the center of every one of these categories, he was all over the floor on defense, playing sound position on the aggressive traps the team was running without
fouling, ripping down two offensive rebounds which led to second chance points, and securing the final board of the game and sinking the free throw that set the deficit to four with less than 6 seconds to go and effectively capped the comeback.
Carrying the torch on offense in the second half was Lou Williams. The kid caught fire and dropped all 19 of his points after the half, including 14 straight to end the third and begin the fourth. Iguodala sat for a stretch after picking up his fifth personal, but when he came back in the fourth he immediately picked up where Lou left off and put the Sixers in the lead for good with two clutch foul shots with exactly one minute left on the clock. He then put the Sixers up by three with a 19-footer as the shot clock expired.
Not to be overlooked is the HUGE effort Jason Smith gave off the bench tonight. In the first half, Smith rolled his ankle and had to be pulled from the game. I didn't think he'd return, but when Dalembert quickly picked up his fourth and fifth fouls early in the third quarter (ugly game for Sammy, by the way) Smith stepped back on the floor and contributed immediately. He played all but a minute or two the rest of the way and finished with 12 points, 4 boards and a block in 24 gutsy minutes.
This was a miraculous win, to be sure, but it was hardly impressive. The Sixers looked like crap for an entire half, worse than crap, to be honest with you. If the Sixers are going to challenge for a playoff spot, they have to beat teams like this, and they shouldn't have to come back from 25 down to do it. The comeback was also helped by Portland's horrible personnel decisions. The Sixers ran an extremely small lineup at the Blazers the entire second half. The Blazers decided to go small to match up. They shouldn't have. They should've put their big center Joel Pryzbilla in there with Aldridge and pounded the ball into the post. The Sixers didn't have the bodies to defend that lineup, and the Blazers could've taken the air out of the ball.
One thing this game has proved to me is that the Willie Green experiment is a complete failure. It's time to pull the plug and put him on the bench, deep in the rotation. His 3-14 shooting night, with 4 turnovers and one assist was just pitiful. For the time being, Lou Williams should be starting at the 2 and Thad Young should be moved up on the depth chart. When Korver comes back, he should start, and the rotation should be nine deep. Green should be used in short spurts when the offense is lagging. He's capable of catching fire and carrying an offense for a short period of time, use him as a spark when you need it. Here's the rotation as I think it should be:
Player of The Game:
- Jason Smith
- Thad Young
- Willie Green
Lou Williams, 19 points (8/13 FG, 2/3 3pt), 4 boards, 3 dishes and 3 steals in 25 minutes.Team Record: