If you came away from this game asking yourself why, I'm right there with ya. There are so many asinine things going on with this team right now it's growing more difficult by the day to list them. Eddie Jordan is perhaps the worst coach I've ever seen at any level, in any sport, including this guy. It's just not hyperbole to say that anymore. I don't know if he's so secure in his job that he's trying to prove a point to Ed Stefanski, or if he truly has the IQ of an earthworm, either way, I blame myself completely for this one. For a second there, I actually thought they wouldn't crumble in the second half, and I should've known better.
If this wasn't the quintessential Eddie Jordan moment, I don't know what is. With 9:13 to go in the 4th quarter and the Sixers barely clinging to a 4-point lead (84-80), Jordan finally put a lineup in that didn't immediately present two or more gross defensive mismatches. Sam Dalembert at the five, Elton Brand at the four, Thad Young at the three, Andre Iguodala at the two and Allen Iverson at the point. In last week's SixersBeat radio show, someone asked me to pick the best lineup for the Sixers as currently constructed, this was the one I chose. It gives you a nice mix of offense/defense. It's not the strongest defensive lineup, that would have Jrue at the point, probably Iguodala at the three and Carney at the two, right now, but you don't necessarily have to play the best defensive lineup, at the expense of offense, with that much time left to go.
Anyway, Jordan went with that lineup out of a timeout and I actually commented that this was the first smart sub he'd made in the second half. I think I also said, "We'll see how long he sticks with it." The next timeout came with 8:48 remaining, and guess what? Jordan subbed Lou Williams in for Elton Brand. He used a smart lineup for 25 seconds of a half in which the Sixers were outscored 60-39. This provided Flip Saunders with three unbelievable mismatches to choose from, and he went about calling their numbers for the rest of the game. From that point on, the Wizards scored 24 points on 17 possessions. That's an offensive rating of 141.18.
If that was the only sin Jordan committed, you'd call him an idiot. Take a look at the rotations chart and tell me what we should call him after the series of baffling substitutions he made in the second half.
I don't have the patience or the energy to pick every move apart, suffice it to say Rodney Carney and Marreese Speights were very effective in the first half, running mostly with Jrue Holiday at the point. Speights played 2:42 in the second half, Carney never got off the bench. In their place, Jason Smith and Jason Kapono combined for 10 minutes, and accumulated a +/- of -14. Elton Brand played a total of 24 minutes and got five shots.
Sam Dalembert had what was probably the best game of his career and saw his minutes limited to 15 in the first half, when he only had one foul, and 17 in the second half, when he was the best player on the floor. Jordan removed Sammy after only 5:35 in the third quarter, with the Sixers leading by 14. By the time he got back in the game, their lead was down to two. Dalembert finished the game with 20 points, 20 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, zero turnovers, 1 foul and about 20 altered shots, and Jordan only saw fit to play him 32 minutes. Brilliant.
Lou Williams played probably the most pitiful game of his career, and I'm sure Eddie Jordan patted him on the back for his 8/13 shooting night. Williams continually drove into traffic with no idea what he was doing with the ball, he made asinine passes, but those weren't even close to his biggest sins. The defense Lou Williams played tonight was shameful, there's no other way to describe it. It was so bad that Flip Saunders eventually realized his biggest mismatch on the floor wasn't Allen Iverson covering Caron Butler, but Lou Williams guarding anyone. He plays six feet from his man and if the guy isn't inclined to shoot a completely uncontested jumper, Lou retreats all the way to the baseline, offering no resistance at all to the driver. Once the layup is made, well it's time to walk the ball up the floor. Shameful.
Speaking of shameful, Eddie Jordan has the Sixers switching everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING. Numerous times tonight the Wizards ran weak, lazy screens on the weak side of the floor with a big setting a nominal screen along the baseline for a small, and the Sixers switched it. At least four times Lou Williams or Allen Iverson wound up on a center right under the hoop. That's Jordan's system, not the players. Switch everything, without a thought. Brilliant.
The only good defense the Sixers played all night was in the second quarter when Jrue and Green were in the back court with two bigs up front (either Sam and Brand, or Brand and Speights) and a good defender on the wing (Iguodala or Carney). For the game, the Wizards compiled an offensive efficiency rating of 111.2, which is pitiful, but actually better than the Sixers' season average.
I'm sure at some point Eddie Jordan is going to talk about how the Sixers just didn't hit their shots, but that's simply not the case. They shot 61% in the first half, which everyone and their mother knows is not sustainable. For the game, they shot 48.7% from the floor and 41.2% from three, the problem wasn't not making shots, the problem was turning the ball over and the inability to even slow the Wizards down with their ridiculous lineups.
The funny part about this game is that it's not an anomaly, not even within the past five games, three of them wins. They've been defending (or not defending if you want to be technical about it) basically for the entire season. This game was a loss because the Wizards weren't missing too many key players and the Sixers didn't perform exceptionally well on the offensive end.
That's the formula for Sixer wins, shoot unbelievably well, take care of the ball and grab an obscene number of offensive reboundss and you have a chance to win, if the opposition is shorthanded. Otherwise, you're going to lose.
Player of The Game: Sammy, obviously, but his wasn't the only impressive stat line. Iguodala finished 8/12 from the field for 20 points with 6 boards, 8 assists, 4 steals and 3 turnovers. Iverson took the cake though, with 4 points on 2/6 from the field with 5 assists and 7 turnovers in 34 minutes.
Team Record: 10-24
Up Next: Toronto on Friday night. I'm expecting the Raptors to score 187 points on the Sixers.
A quick note to the guys who won tickets on New Year's Eve. I'm 90% sure we're going to have another field trip in late March, against the Bulls. I'm also pretty sure I'm coming down to Philly some time in February, so you'll be able to choose either of those games if you'd like to go with me. Otherwise, I'll buy you a comparable ticket (price-wise) to any game of your choosing. If you live out of town, I'll buy you a ticket to a game in your neck of the woods if you'd like. More details to come.
by Brian on Jan 6 2010